Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Australia's hardcore surfers are a rare breed.

When the waves are calling, nothing, absolutely nothing, will keep them out of the water.

Yesterday, a surfer was attacked by a shark near Bells Beach, Victoria. The shark left a tooth in his wetsuit when it bit through into his leg, leaving a 30cm long gash.

British backpackers pulled the injured surfer out of the water and looked after him until paramdeics, and then the police, arrived.

But two surfers ignored warnings from the police not to go back into the water. They wanted to keep surfing, even though they could see the shark attack victim right there on the beach in front of them, being treated by paramedics.

It took two police officers to convince the surfers that returning to the waves was a really, really bad idea :
"(The surfers) wanted to go out after the attack," said a policewoman. "...it is just unbelievable..."
The local constabulary are not shocked by the shark attack. The area gets sharks passing through, and sometimes they hang around. And while there have been "no serious shark attacks in the area" of recent :
"We have had quite a few nibbles on boards. They're getting closer."

The surfer who got chomped, Peter Galvin, had been sitting up on his surfboard, one hundred metres from the shore. His mistake was to dangle both legs in the water. Police said he was lucky he didn't fall off his board.

An eyewitness report :
Murray Thomas, 34, surfed the break less than an hour before the attack and dashed back down to the beach when he saw the ambulance fly by him.

"He had a chunk taken out of his calf, just hanging off, and his board had been chomped, it had teeth marks underneath," Mr Thomas said.
Shark attacks in Australia are extremely rare, considering the zeal with which we plunge into the ocean throughout the summer.

The last time anyone was killed in a shark in Victoria was 1954.

There have been two major shark attacks in Australian waters in 2006.

On January 7, a 21 year old woman had her arms bitten off by what were believed to bull sharks off Amity Point, North Stradbroke Island.

On December 2, a fifteen year old boy was attacked near Esperance in Western Australia. A five metre shark bit off a section of his leg.

There were calls for the Bells Beach shark to be hunted down and killed, but one online poll of 5500 Australians revealed 85% think the shark should live, and that surfers know the risks involved.

The surfer who was mauled by the shark sees no reason why it should be killed.

"Leave it alone," says shark attack victim :

Friend Kate Maguire said Mr Galvin saw no need for a cull.

"The last thing Pete wants is a shark hunt," Ms Maguire said. "He is experienced. He knows the risks."

Surgeons at the Royal Melbourne Hospital operated to save his left leg after his lower thigh and calf were ripped open.

The bite was within millimetres of cutting an artery, leaving a 30cm gash.

The shark's tooth embedded in his wetsuit will be analysed to identify the type of shark, possibly a 3m bronze whaler or young great white.

Mr Galvin saw the shark and kicked it away before being helped to shore by his friend

That's the way it goes. You surf, you know you might get chomped by a shark.

If a shark tries to chomp you, you kick it away.