Each new attack "inflames or reignites everyone's emotions and experiences, a new fear coming over you."
Fisherman Jeff Schmucker has been buried in calls, text messages and interviews after filming a fifteen-foot Great White shark swimming at a popular South Australian surf spot, minutes after yesterday’s attack on a surfer.
Schmucker, who is fifty-six, had planned to go foiling out the back of Granites but had been busy pulling up his crayfish pots and arrived at the popular lefthander a little later than he would’ve liked.
It might’ve saved his life.
“It was cruising on the outside of the break, where I would’ve been foiling. I would’ve jumped on top of the shark with my foil. It could’ve been the end of me,” he says.
As it was, and Schmucker don’t mess around, he jumped on his ski and started looking for the Great White.
“I was looking for the legrope hanging out of its mouth,” he says. “There was still six feet of legrope on the guy’s leg (when he was attacked) which means it would be long enough to hang out of its mouth. From mouth to tummy it’s only three feet.”
Schmucker says he did six laps of the Great White, trying to film it.
I asked him if he was rattled ‘cause jet skis can be unstable and when there’s a fifteen-foot Great White underneath it there ain’t much between you and its jaws.
“Doesn’t bother me. I”m safe on the ski… ninety percent safe,” he says.
“(But) my heart was racing a little bit. I didn’t want to hear the motor stop.”
He says he’s never sene any Great White at Granites before yesterday and the last fatal hit in the proximity was on abalone diver Terry Manuel in 1974.
More than anything, Schmucker says he feels for the kids who saw it all, three separate hits on the surfer.
“I fucken feel for the kids. That bothers me, kids upset. There were fifteen people within twenty, thirty, forty metres. Big splash, lots of blood, the whole bit.”
In a wild series of coincidences, or maybe it’s just South Australia, Schmucker’s two paramedic daughters were also about to paddle out at the sites of two other recent Great White attacks (a non-fatal hit on Kangaroo Island in 2020) and the fatal hit on Elliston school teacher Simon Baccanello at Walker Rocks in May this year.
Schmucker says each new attack “inflames or reignites everyone’s emotions and experiences, a new fear coming over you.”
One Granites local who has lived in the area for thirty-five years was keen to hit the empty lineup explaining,
“When your number’s up your number’s up.”