"Spread the word. No one goes in the water."
As one below-the-line sage remarked a couple of weeks back when fifteen-year-old grom Khai Cowley was killed by a Great White in front of his dad at Ethels on the Yorke Peninsula, “In South Australia, you can have sharks or you can have surfing. You can’t have both.”
(Or words to that effect.)
Two months ago, 55-year-old surfer Tod Gendle was killed and disappeared by a fifteen-foot Great White at Granites, twenty clicks out of Streaky Bay, South Australia, seven hundred clicks north-west of Adelaide.
Earlier in 2023, and just a hundred clicks south, local school teacher Simon Baccanello was killed by a Great White while surfing at Walkers Rocks in Elliston.
A brave soul, Baccanello warned others to split as the Great White started swimming towards him telling terrified kids in the lineup, “Don’t worry, get yourself to shore”.
Now, a sixty-four-year-old surfer from Elliston has been bitten between the ass and leg at Blacks by a Great White. He paddled in, climbed the cliff, refused an ambulance and drove himself to hospital, reflecting the chaotic nature of a Great White hit and the difference just a few millimetres can make.
Still, a Great White hit is a Great White hit. Substantial.
A message bouncing said the surfer, named Murray, “needs stitches but will be ok. Spread the word. No one goes in the water.”
Blacks, which is near Elliston, is the archetypal South Australian slab, swells swinging onto shallow limestone shelf before evaporating in uncomfortably deep water, notorious for Great Whites. In 2000, two surfers were killed in two separate Great White attacks, one at Blacks, one at Cactus 140 miles west.
I remember sending a few pro’s to Blacks years back and laughed, but understood, when I heard a story of ‘em paddling onto the dry shelf when a couple of dolphins surfaced.
After Khai Cowley was killed on December 29, the South Australian premier Peter Malinauskas said,
“The reality is there are sharks along our coastline around the southern part of our nation. When people venture out, particularly where they go quite far away from the shoreline, there is a risk associated with that.
“But we’ve seen 11 fatal shark attacks in South Australia since the year 2000 so the fact we’ve seen three across this summer is startling and it is of concern.”
Sharks or surfing? Which way do you swing?
(More on the attack as it comes.)