Shark chomps long surfboard in half, two men survive the attack

Associated Press, 10/28/97 03:44

PERTH, Australia (AP) - A 16-foot shark, believed to be a great white, knocked two men from the long surfboard they were paddling before crushing it at a south Australian beach today. Both men escaped serious injury.

Brian Sierakowski, 51, said he and a friend were paddling about 200 yards off Cottesloe Beach in Perth when the shark attacked, chomping just a foot from where he was sitting.

``He missed my feet by about one foot, and as we attempted to maintain balance, he (the shark) kept chewing into the (board)... and chewed it in half,'' Sierakowski told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

The men were thrown into the water and Seirakowski was hit on the head by the shark's tail.

The shark turned around, apparently to make a second attack. But the men had already been picked up by a couple paddling nearby and rushed back to the beach.

Sierakowskia, a former professional Australian rules football player, suffered minor facial injuries from the tail-strike. His companion, Dr. Barney Hanranhan, a plastic surgeon, was uninjured.

The shark was tracked for more than 30 minutes along the coast by a helicopter and a boat. Observers estimated the shark to be 16 feet.

Beaches along the Perth foreshore were closed today, but several surfers ignored the warning.

The great white, which can reach up to 20 feet in length, is among the most aggressive and unpredictable of sharks. It has been known to attack swimmers and boats without provocation.

© Copyright 1997 Globe Newspaper Company

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