"It was a big shark. Ten-to-fifteen feet by looking at the velocity and force of it jumping out of the water.”
For whatever reason, perhaps, but only perhaps, an explosion in numbers following a quarter century of government protection, Great White encounters, attacks, have become a regular sorta thing on Australia’s east coast.
Not so much if anymore, but when.
It don’t matter if you’re Byron Bay or Ulladulla or Bells, the ocean’s tanks have been making their presence known and felt to surfers.
Five months ago, Mark Sanguinetti died on the beach after being hit by a fifteen-foot White at Tuncurry, a few hours north of Sydney.
Three months ago, Joe Hoffman survived a hit by a ten-foot Great White at Crescent Head, a little further north of Tuncurry.
Four weeks ago, on Father’s Day, daddy-to-be Tim Thompson was killed by a White at Shelley Beach near Coffs Harbour.
Two weeks ago, a flotilla of surfers were chased out of the water and onto a rock ledge by a fifteen-foot Great White near Ulladulla.
And, last Friday, former world number five surfer Amee Donohoe, a powerful natural footer, Jordy Smith sorta style, who’s now head coach/owner at Central Coast Surf Academy, got a real close look at a Great White at McMasters Point, an hour and a half north of Sydney.
Donohoe, who is forty, was paddling back out when, “I saw this huge Great White launch straight out of the water five feet from myself and even closer to the other surfer,” she told ABC. “I knew it was a Great White because I could literally see all its teeth and the white underneath its belly.”
Donohoe reckons the White was chasing her pal Steve.
“It breached out of the water, really close, probably looking to have a fight with him. He was looking at a wave and when he missed it he saw what was happening. It was trying to intercept him. From where I was looking, and I’m not talking it up, there was teeth to be seen. It was a big shark. Ten-to-fifteen feet by looking at the velocity and force of it jumping out of the water.”
After beaching ‘emselves on nearby rocks, Donohoe says her feet are still bandaged but didn’t feel any pain at the time ‘cause of the adrenalin dump, her pal Steve was hit by the realisation he was probs about to get hit.
“Pretty intense,” says Donohoe.
“And no doubt that this was a Great White. Very obvious, very, very obvious. I know the difference between bull sharks and reef sharks. I’ve seen ‘em all over the years. They’re nothing like this.”
Still, Donohoe describes the encounter as a “phenomenal experience.”
“Seeing them on TV is one thing, being that close and seeing that nature in full force was… I’m very grateful we got out unscathed. From its behaviour it was definitely looking for something to eat.”