Thursday, December 21, 2006

Man punches shark and survives shark attack

Has only a few puncture wounds on his body and a bitten-off surf board to show for his ordeal
Being mauled by a great white shark wasn’t the worst part of Jake Heron’s ordeal. It was the anxious 10-meter (33-foot) swim to what was left of his surfboard while trailing blood from leg and arm injuries. “If I was ever going to get hit again, that’s when it was going to happen,’’ Heron, 40, said yesterday as he recovered in a hospital in the Australian south coast town of Port Lincoln. It was in waters around Port Lincoln that he managed to fight off a four-metre (13-foot) great white shark on Sunday.

Heron told reporters at a bedside news conference that he initially thought he had paddled his board onto a rock when the shark rose from the sea ahead of him, 50 meters (160 feet) from shore. Heron said the shark bit his leg, then took his board with its second bite. “I was just punching and kicking it,’’ Heron said. “Then my board took off. It had my board underwater.’’ Heron said the board popped to the surfaced about 10 meters (30 feet) away. The worst thing was the swim,” he said. Heron, a lobster fisherman, laughed when asked why he had not died from shock. “I don’t know. I don’t think the shock factor kicked in too much,’’ he said.

“I sort of knew what I had to do. I had to get in and my board was there and that was all that was going through my mind at that time,’’ he added. He said he caught a wave and was able reach the beach much faster than if he had had to swim the distance. He described his injuries to his leg and arm as “puncture wounds.” The attack has heightened concerns about the numbers of great whites, a protected shark species blamed for five deaths in South Australia waters since 2000.

Heron called for a controlled cull of the predators around Port Lincoln, a fishing town where underwater scenes of real great whites featured in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 movie ‘Jaws’. “The numbers are just going up,” he said. “It’s time they started controlling the numbers of sharks in Port Lincoln.”


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