Margaret River? Another day, another shark hit…
Knocked, swiped, hit, bit. Another day in Margaret River, I suppose.
At around one pm today, Rob Bruce, who is sixty, was paddling out to Main Break, the site of the probably gone-forever Margaret River Pro, and “knocked” off his board by a shark. (Species unknown.)
From Perth Now.
“I wasn’t a long way from shore, maybe only 100m, and the shark just hit me from my right side and knocked me off my board,” Mr Bruce said. “I could only see the back half of it but I could see the fin and the tail fin so I definitely knew it was a shark. It thrashed around a bit but the whole thing only lasted five seconds. I was terrified and screaming and trying to alert surfers I could see in the distance.”
Mr Bruce said he immediately paddled in and was followed by some of the 15 other surfers in the water.
After watching from the shore for an hour as others returned to the water he decided to get back out there but admitted he did not feel entirely comfortable.
“I was shocked,” he said. “It felt like I’d had five cups of coffee and it was hard to relax when I got back out there.”
The impact of the shark’s hit left a small crack in Mr Bruce’s 2.5m board. He credits the size of his board and the black and white stripes as possibly keeping the shark away after the initial blow.
“The black and white stripes are meant to deter sharks,” he said. “Maybe it changed it’s mind at the last second. It might have saved me.”
Mr Bruce said until recently he had only seen a shark out surfing about every 10 years. In the past two weeks he has seen three out in the surf.
He said the protection of great white sharks was something that needed to be looked at along with smart drum lines and and GPS tagging.
Yesterday, authorities closed beaches from North Point to Ellenbrook after a teenage surfer was “swiped” by a twelve-foot White at South Point just across the bay from another Margaret River Pro site, North Point.
The closure created a ruckus among local surfers who were very unpleased the coastline north of the Box was going to closed, with fines threatened etc, just in time for the arrival of classic autumn swell.
From Perth Now.
“As far as the surf goes tomorrow, I can’t speak for everyone, but a couple of guys I have spoken to, we will be going surfing,” shaper Mat Manners said. “I’m not sure where we will go yet. It doesn’t seem like the Government is going to do anything any time soon, so what do you do? Do you just stop what you are doing and wait for them? It is my livelihood as well.”
The State Government all but ruled out drastic action to manage shark numbers last week, despite a shock decision by world surfing’s governing body to cancel the Margaret River Pro.
Mr Manners said there had been an “awful lot” of white shark sightings off the local beaches recently.
“How many people need to be taken before the Government does something?”
Augusta-Margaret River shire ranger co-ordinator Mick O’Regan said people who ignored closures could be fined.
“Given we know the surf is looking good for tomorrow and there’s a lot of visitors in our region … we feel another temporary closure is warranted,” he said.
Of course, today’s knock, and yesterday’s swipe, come just one week after two Great White attacks on the one day that caused the cancellation of the Margaret River Pro.
I asked one local surfer about the mood in the south-west and he said “Some guys are taking a break or going up north or to Indo. But most guys are, like, ‘Fair bump, play on.'” (It’s an Australian football analogy.)
After today’s incident, two rangers from the Department of Fisheries stood at the top of the stairs at Main Break advising surfers not to paddle out.
At dusk tonight, the surf had pulsed to eight-to-ten feet and fifteen guys were still out.