AN Elliston pharmacist has told how he was launched into the air after he was attacked from below by a great white shark on the state’s West Coast this morning.
The shark, estimated to have been 15 feet or 4.5m long, smashed into the bottom of Andrew “Monkey” McLeod’s board while he was surfing with two mates on the Elliston Bar, about 2km off shore, at 9.30am.
The great white left two huge bite marks, along with blood stains, in the bottom of Mr McLeod’s surfboard and left the trio — made up of one half of the “duct tape surfing” pair Tyrone Swan and Oakley Big Wave Contest finalist Sam Jervis — facing a harrowing paddle back to shore.
Mr McLeod, 35, said he had just arrived at the reef break after the long haul from shore when the shark hit.
“I was about 15 metres from the peak, just getting my breath back so I could catch a wave if one came through when I just felt this massive force and heard this massive sound,” he said.
“I went flying and Ty thinks that the shark might have totally breached the surface because there was a huge splash.
“After I climbed back on my board I saw its tail fin right next to me and it must have been five foot high. I’d say the shark was 15 foot long. I yelled out “it’s a pointer!’.”
Mr Jervis and Mr Swan, who had watched the drama unfold, waited for Mr McLeod to paddle over to them before the three surfers began paddling back to the southern end of Waterloo Bay.
“I have to give a massive thanks to them for waiting for me and allowing us to bunch up before we paddled in.”
The damage to Mr McLeod’s board, however, meant that the other two surfers were able to catch a wave and he found himself alone.
“Because my board was stuffed I couldn’t catch that wave, but then I got one and rode it on my guts,” he said.
“Then it was a very fast paddle back to the shore, but I was totally rooted because I’d only just got out there.”
Mr Jervis said once on shore the friends realised just how lucky they had been.
“It looks like it’s had two bites at Monkey’s board, and there was shark blood on the bottom of his board as well,” Mr Jervis said.
“That was my first encounter with a great white, and it certainly doesn’t make you feel like jumping straight back in the water. But it could have been a lot worse — we could have been paddling in without Monkey and had to tell his fiancée what had happened.”
Mr Jervis said that he and his friends rode big boards when surfing the Elliston Bar, mainly because it made the long paddle easier.
Mr Jervis, a well-known surfer and owner of two surf shops in Port Lincoln, said surfers and fishermen had recently seen a lot of sharks in the area.
“Yeah, personally I get pretty tired of hearing hippies telling us that we shouldn’t kills sharks,” Mr Jervis said.
“Well one just tried to kill my friend.”
Mr McLeod, who moved to Elliston from Adelaide about four years ago, said that while he was shaken by the incident, it wouldn’t stop him from surfing again.
“Nah, I’ll be back out there for sure,” he said.
“But maybe not at that spot again.”
Elliston was the scene of a fatal shark attack in 2000, when 17-year-old Port Lincoln surfer Jevan Wright was killed while surfing at Blackfellows.