Australian surfer Mick Fanning has described a shark attack on him in Jeffreys Bay at the weekend as a “very humbling” experience, expressing his gratitude to those who sped to his side to help him as he fought off the predator.
“I guess someone was looking out for me… to walk away from a shark attack without a scratch on you, it’s a miracle really,” Fanning said at a media briefing in Sydney, Australia, broadcast live on television on Tuesday morning.
He paid tribute to his co-surfer and friend, Julian Wilson, who was in the water with him when the shark surfaced, and also to the organisers of the J-Bay Open surfing competition.
“I’m so thankful that Jules was there, I’m so thankful that the water patrol was there to get me to safety.”
Looking back at the footage afterwards, he said he was shocked to see how big the shark was.
“I didn’t think the shark was that big when I first saw it… then I went back [to the footage] and looked… yeah, it was pretty big.”
He recalled the encounter again, saying he was in competition mode, waiting for the right wave, when the shark emerged.
“I was ready and I was calm. The last thing on my mind was a… shark. I was sitting there… I felt like was just about to start moving towards him [the wave] and all of a sudden I just felt a presence or something behind… and that is when I jumped onto my board.
“It just sort of came up and went for the tail. I don’t know why it didn’t bite my board… it just kept coming back. I was trying to put my board between us…
“All of a sudden it came again. It tried to position myself away from it, to the side of it. It was right there and that is when I punched…”
He was not sure what to do next.
Fight or flight
“Should I go for my board or swim?… I turned around and I had my fist ready… luckily by that stage the boat and the jet skis were on top of us. They did such a great job.”
Fanning described it as a “very humbling” experience.
Wilson, who witnessed the attack, said he believed it had an important underlying message.
“We took so much from the ocean and I think that was they kind of letting us know that they’re there and how insignificant we are and how powerful they are,” said Wilson.
Fanning added jokingly, “thanks for not eating me”.
Both of them would not be deterred from going back surfing.
“I’m sure I’ll go back surfing… it’s something I do, it’s something that gives me peace. I’m sure I’ll go back out,” said Fanning. News24