'White pointer' shark attack
DEAN Everson was back surfing his favourite break yesterday, just days after using his bodyboard to fight off what he believes was a 2.5 metre white pointer shark at Yamba's Turners Beach.
Under overcast skies, the 18-year-old Yamba man was taking advantage of big swells in dirty water at the popular surfing beach on Saturday afternoon and was about 20 metres from the rocks when he got the shock of his life.
"The shark threw itself out of the wave at me," Dean said.
"I was in shock."
He said the potential killer was so close he got a good view of its teeth.
"All I could think to do was throw the board at it," he said yesterday.
The board made contact with the shark and probably distracted it, but the ordeal was not over.
Dean was trying desperately to swim back to shore and was struggling against the waves, getting caught in the same rip that almost claimed the life of a young boy a few days earlier.
"It was like being in a washing machine with an eight foot shark," he said.
It took him about 10 minutes to get out of the water and onto the rocks.
"The set was big and I was probably under water for about 45 seconds at one time," Dean said.
"The waves kept coming and I was being pulled by the rip and pushed by the waves.
"I was ready for it. I thought I was done for.
"I yelled at the other surfers to let them know."
When he finally scrambled onto the rocks, horrified onlookers told Dean he was lucky to be alive.
"One guy said that he had been watching the shark move around and he thought it was following me," he said.
With shaking hands and an amazing story to tell, Dean immediately warned others of the threat.
"I went to see Shane Henwood at the Yamba Backpackers straight after," he said.
"I wanted to warn them not to go out."
Dean, the son of a fourth generation professional fisherman with 35 years' experience, works at the Yamba Fish Market and also the fish co-op in Maclean.
He said the shape of the shark's tail indicated it was a white pointer.
"The tail is large and has a distinct shape ... it gives it away," he said.
When Dean told his parents, he said his mum was 'pretty freaked'.
His father, Steve Everson, said Dean came home fairly shaken, but calmed down after a while.
"There's no shortage of sharks in the area," Steve said.
"There are probably many more near misses that we don't hear about.
"I'm just happy everything has turned out all right."
For most people, a close encounter of this kind would deter them from the water, probably for good.
But Dean felt he needed to get back into the surf, which he did on Monday and again yesterday at the same location.
"He left it for a day or so, but you've got to get over these things," Steve said.
"As a parent you are always worried about your kid, but you can't stop them from doing what they love.
"It's just one of those things. It's a life experience he will never forget."
Allan Bodycote, a commercial fisherman with more than 30 years' experience, catches sharks in the estuary and the ocean for a living.
"There are plenty of sharks out there," he said.
"The place is full of sharks. It's their territory.
"People shouldn't worry about it. You have more chance of being hit by a bus than being taken by a shark. We are not their natural food."
He said last year was a record year for shark catches locally and there were more and more reports from around the world.
Mr Bodycote says bronze whalers and bull sharks are the most common large fish he catches, and that while he hadn't seen a white pointer in the area, they were around.
"They have a distinctive shaped, fin, colour, eye and head."