from The Sydney Morning Herald

      Shark attack film chills Aussie surfers

Source: AAP|Published: Thursday July 20, 5:06 PM

Gold Coast: Gripping amateur video tape of a Great White shark attack in South Africa has given Australian surfers something new to fear.

The video of a four and a half metre long Great White launching itself at teenage South African surfer Shannon Ainslie has revealed for the first time that even when surfers are riding a wave they are not safe from the ocean's most feared predator.

'That's the last of the security curtains taken away, that's for sure,' concluded former world surfing champion and president of the Association of Surfing Professionals, Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew.

'I've always thought the security of being on a wave is a transparent one because I have actually seen, personally seen, sharks riding waves and I've always thought there is no doubt they could come straight through,' he said.

The most frightening shark attack images since the movie Jaws have been broadcast in slow motion with digitally enhanced close ups on television around the country, sending a collective chill through the Australian surfing community.

Fifteen-year-old Shannon was taking off on a wave as the shark lurched forward and threw him over the back of the breaker.

A second Great White was seen lurking nearby. Ainslie escaped with a severely injured hand.

Doctors were able to reattach a severed middle finger.

While the attack happened thousands of kilometres from Australia, it hit close to home because Australian surfers regularly deal with sharks and often travel to South Africa.

'Our southern waters are 'chockablock' with Great Whites,' said Bartholomew.

'Something like this does hit home hard and it does send a chill up your spine for sure. It is pretty spooky.'

Gold Coast-based surf cameraman, John Gordon, who filmed the MSF-Billabong Pro at Jeffrey's Bay in South Africa earlier this month, said the video showed how vulnerable surfers are.

'If you are a target, it doesn't matter if you are sitting there or riding a wave. It will go for you,' said Gordon.

'They are just the most awesome hunting machines. That's what they are built for. To kill and hunt.'

Surfers who brave the Great White shark breeding grounds off South Australia admit the Ainslie video has made getting in the water feel just a little riskier.

'It might freak you out when you are out there by yourself but when you are out there with your mates you think there is more of a probability that it will get them,' said Kylie Nichols of Lonsdale, South Australia.

'It shows that even when you catch a wave in you are still under risk of getting attacked,' observed Port Elliot surf shop owner, Paul Benson.

The CEO of the South Australia Surfing Association Jim Clarke said the whole industry was talking about the video today.

Most were surprised by the direction of the attack. The shark seemed to come from the shallow water on the front side of the wave where surfers traditionally felt they were safe from attacks.

'Normally you think of the shark coming from the deeper water ... that shark came through the break and the white water,' Clarke said.

The video also confirmed for Rabbit Bartholomew that Great Whites strike without warning.

'Every single person in that water was oblivious to it. Totally unaware of that thing's presence,' said the former world surfing champion.

'The thing with Great Whites is that they mug you.'

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