Surfers treat sharks with respect, not fear

EARLY yesterday morning I received a phone call from a surfer at Broken Head.

He told me about a teenager who had just been flipped in the air off his surfboard by a bronze whaler shark.

When I asked had the boy been injured, the man calmly told me, ‘Nah, it was just a few scratches and grazes and a busted lip from his board’. Would he give me his name? ‘No, I am pretty shy’, he said.

I asked him whether surfers were seeing more sharks right now. He was quick to point out that the shark was only following the bait fish in. In other words, it wasn’t the shark’s fault. He said there was no need to create a panic about sharks in the surf.

Since that phone call we have received many others about the incident and one of our motivated reporters, Saffron Howden, managed to track down the father and son involved. Surfers are a breed unto themselves, as you will read in the story written by another of our reporters, Kate O’Neill. Most of us would never enter the water again after such an incident and we would be screaming from the rooftops about the dangers of sharks.

Not surfers. As they sit and meditate on their boards in the ocean they become close to all manner of fishy creatures, including sharks. They hold a deep respect for them.

I envy them this understanding of the ocean’s bounty. But I do wonder what the boy’s mother said to him.

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