Veteran surfers brush with shark
VETERAN surfer Milton Cater survived a brush with a shark off Broken Head beach yesterday, but was left with a torn shoulder ligament from the force of the attack.
The "large animal" - either a bull shark or a bronze whaler - gave Mr Carter's board such a massive whack he was twisted around trying to stay upright. He shouted a warning to his son Nick and was able to paddle ashore with one arm.
Mr Cater, 63, and his son were surfing 40-50 metres offshore near Taylors Lake at Broken Head at 6am when the incident took place.
He had just hopped back on his board after cleaning some wax from its underside when it was struck.
"The noise was unbelievable," he said. "Very loud, nothing like a soft animal hitting something."
He said he guessed the shark had been aiming to give him "a nudge", but missed when he jumped back onto his board, and hit the underside with its dorsal fin.
Mr Cater said the day had "a weird feel" to it before the attack.
"It was a change-of-seasons kind of day. The water smelt odd - like a whale had thrown up - and was opaque and shiny. Dirty after all the rain," he said.
He surfs regularly at the river mouth spot, but may avoid it for a while, he said.
It was Mr Cater's first up-close experience with a shark - good odds, he said, after 50 years of surfing.
The attack won't keep him out of the water, but the shoulder injury will, he said ruefully.
"That's what I'm most upset about. It's been a poor spring and now we've got some good surf at last, and I can't enjoy it," he said.