Surfer Fends Off Shark Attack Then Keeps Riding Waves
CANBERRA, Australia (April 16) - A surfer fought off a seven-foot shark with his board at an Australian beach Saturday, and then continued surfing, a lifeguard said.
The surfer, Simon Letch, returned to Sydney's Bronte Beach 30 minutes after surviving the attack with a replacement board, despite the beach being closed because of the danger, lifeguard Aaron Graham said.
"He was pretty calm about it, very laid back,'' said Graham, who was on the beach when the surfer, aged in his 30s, rode his damaged board in.
Nine Network television news reported that Letch is English.
"I had caught a couple of waves and was paddling back out. I had just turned around and the board shuddered and I thought 'shark', " he told The Sunday Times of Australia.
He told the newspaper he thought the shark was a bronze whaler about the size of "great dane, like a big dog." He said he shoved the nose of the surfboard into the shark's mouth to push it away from him.
"I looked and I could see it so I shoved the board at it like a barge pole, then it got a real mouthful," he told the newspaper. "After a second I pulled the board back and it released."
Letch was among a small group of surfers sitting on their boards about 100 feet offshore at dawn when the shark attacked, Graham said.
"He jumped off the back and pushed the board toward the shark, keeping it between them,'' Graham said.
A close-up of the spot where a shark bit the fiberglass surfboard. (National Nine News Australia)
The shark took two bites of the fiberglass board before ceasing the attack, Graham told The Associated Press by telephone.
"There were two big puncture mark bites on the board, but it didn't actually bite a hunk out of it so he was able to ride it in,'' he said.
Letch told The Sunday Times that he tried not to panic as he paddled to safety on the shore.
"At first I was paddling fast, but then I thought 'slow down, you look like a flapping fish, strong, steady strokes,'" he told a reporter.
Last month, a 20-foot great white shark tore a man in half, killing him instantly as he snorkeled off Australia's west coast.
That was the first shark fatality in Australian waters since last December, when an 18-year-old surfer was bitten in half by a 16-foot great white off a beach in the southern city of Adelaide.
A week earlier, a shark killed a 38-year-old diver spearfishing on the Great Barrier Reef off northeast Australia.
To me that just says that he has a really big set of cajones.
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