VIDEO: Shark attack survivor describes great white encounter
WHEN 54-year-old surfer Michael Hoile found himself in the water next to the great white shark that had knocked him off his board, his only thought was to get back to the beach.
"It felt like I had hit a rock at the bottom of my surfboard," he said.
"I don't remember the exact direction I fell, but I do know that I was looking towards the beach to retrieve my surfboard with the shark right next to me."
Less than 24 hours earlier, 32-year-old bodyboarder Mathew Lee was left fighting for his life after a brutal great white shark attack off North Wall at Ballina.
Despite knowledge of the Ballina shark attack, Mr Hoile said he had talked his brother Phil Hoile into going for a surf with him at The Point in Lennox Head yesterday morning.
"(I) tried to get on my surf board as quick as possible and get to the beach," he said.
"I'm doing that and a big wave came through, and I'm in the impact zone so it smashed me and I ran into somebody who was about 50 metres in front of me.
"I yelled 'shark' and he must have heard that - he was out of there as well."
Mr Hoile said the shock of the encounter was only just setting in.
"I'm now only just realising that, hang on, that was 30cm away from my legs and that was a very big powerful marine species," he said.
Despite the ordeal, Mr Hoile said he had "no animosity" towards the shark.
"Only six people last year died of shark attacks and the average is 10 per year," he said.
"We should protect the sharks, not try to kill them."
Phil Hoile said despite his concerns, he let his brother talk him into going surfing that morning.
"I was a bit concerned about sharks… but there were some very good waves out there," he said.
Phil Hoile said he was surfing about 50 metres away when he realised something was wrong.
"I saw them on the beach signalling people to come … as we came in we saw the bite marks in his board and they were huge," he said.
"(I won't be surfing) today and possibly not tomorrow and possibly not here for a while."