Friday, July 31, 2009

Teenager escaped the jaws of Great White shark

An Australian teenager narrowly escaped the jaws of a 4 foot shark, likely a great white, after being knocked off his surf board and thrown high into the air while out in the ocean.

Fourteen-year-old Zac Skyring was out for an early morning surf on the north-east NSW coast with his father when the shark rammed into the underside of his surfboard, catapulting the teenager into the air.

From about 100 feet (30m) away on the beach his father, Nigel, watched in horror as the incident unfolded. When he saw blood pouring from his son's face he feared the worst, but the board had hit Zac's face, causing his lip to split and bleed heavily.

“He was going up the crest of a wave and just as he got to the top a brown thing came through the water and I saw Zac catapulted into the air” Nigel Skyring told The Times.

“When I saw the blood coming from his mouth I thought - Oh no, this isn't good.”

Zac escaped with only a few light puncture marks on his lower arm and a ripped wetsuit. One of the shark's teeth had gone through his watchband.

"We were very lucky," Mr Skyring said. "We are a family of very strong environmentalists and we know that we were in their [the sharks'] territory."

Experts will examine the teeth marks in the wetsuit to determine the breed of shark involved in the attack.

Shark expert Michael Brown, the director of Surfwatch Australia, said the details of the attack strongly suggested it was a great white shark and not a bronze whaler as first suspected.

"Bronze whalers don't tend to come up and hit you from underneath like that and there's really only one type of shark that does, the great white," Brown told The Times.

"Great whites have a set hunting procedure. They spot you, come to the surface and have a look. Once they've identified you as potential prey they go deep under the water, about 15m - 20m, before coming up and with all their might, hitting you as hard as possible. They then back off, circle and wait for the prey to bleed to death."

He added that great white sharks are golden in colour on top, which can cause people to misake them for a bronze whaler.

Conditions have been ripe for shark attacks in recent years along the NSW coast, Brown said.

"The last four years have been exceptionally good for bait fish to breed and multiply. With so many bait fish, more and more sharks are coming in close to shore to feed.

"I personally believe this year will be worse than last [for shark attacks]."


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