Surfer thinks big shark just `wanted to play'
Fairfax Media | Saturday, 17 January 2009
An encounter with a shark has left Karitane man Tane Tokona fending off a whale of a tale.
Police yesterday warned of "a very large shark" cruising with intent along the Otago beach and asked surfers to stay out of the water.
But Tokona, who came face-to-face with the beast while surfing, downplayed claims a monster shark had chased him from the water.
"All these stories were flying around like, `a surfer got attacked by a shark'."
Instead, he thinks the surfboard-length shark just wanted to play.
He spotted the shark soon after getting into the water yesterday morning, but thought it was a piece of bull kelp at first.
"It wasn't until half an hour later I saw it again.
"I looked down and saw its nose and it gave the rear end of my board a bit of a nudge."
He and two friends left the water, but only as a precaution, Tokona said.
"I actually think it wanted to play. It never told us to go but we thought it would be a good idea to get out."
Fisherman Allan Anderson, who followed the shark out to sea, said rumours it was a great white or mako shark were exaggerated.
"It was either a small blue or a grey shark about the length of a surfboard.
"I'd hate to think if it did eat someone, because it'd be there all day."
Tokona said it was the first time in 25 years of surfing that he had been that close to a shark.
It had not put him off surfing at all -- he headed out for a second time yesterday afternoon.
Karitane teenager Chris Blair needed eight stitches after he was bitten by a seven-gill shark at the same beach in 2004.