Shark Attack Shark Attack- Byron Bay honeymoon
“A BRITISH couple's honeymoon ended in the worst way imaginable after the groom was killed by a shark.
“The attack happened in the most unlikely of places - 10m off the idyllic Anse Lazio beach in the Seychelles.” Report for the Australian Telegraph, August 17, 2011.
Pretty scary stuff! But you’ve got to admit, there’s something about a shark attack, that’s why they made Jaws!. The Germans have a word for it : Schadenfreude - is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.
Think for a minute. Our initial reaction, that very split second when we hear a story like this, there is a nanosecond of pleasure. Some believe it’s our animal instinct of survival – we survived and that translates as exhilaration or pleasure.
What ever you think about Schadenfreude shark attacks capture the imagination and here Down Under (that’s Australia for the geographically challenged) we are no strangers to shark attacks.
In the land of sun and surf it’s not uncommon for a shark to take a surfer or two in the summer months. It’s path of the course of being an Aussie surf lover. Sharks are also partial to varying their diet and have, at times, had a bite of an overseas visitor or two.
It’s horrific, but let’s face it, it happens now and then, and when it does, the media sharks also go into a frenzy, people love reading about it, it’s the old Schadenfreude syndrome.
Despite the danger of being eaten alive I did, from a very early age, frolic innocently in the Pacific Ocean in summer, blissfully unaware of the dangers lurking below.
My father, a keen surfer and a former life saver, made sure my sisters and I had a healthy respect for the ocean and all that lived in it. He made sure we could swim, surf and get out of deep water. Our swimming ability meant my father could get on with the business of surfing….far out to sea!
But he always left us with a few words of advice regarding sharks: “When you’re out in the ocean surfing, always keep a semi circle of people around you so if a shark comes, he’ll pick them off first.” These are wise words that I’ve passed on to my sons.
Majorly Heavy Shark Attack
The last major shark attack in the waters I frequent was in 1993. It was Byron Bay and another honeymoon couple went diving with an organised group off the Bay at Julian Rocks.
Here is an account posted by a surfer ScottyK http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-27499.html
“Four days later on 9th June 1993 another diver was attacked and killed by a Great White.
This attack occurred at Byron Bay at the top of NSW. It is very rare for Great Whites to be around this area. John and Debbie Ford were on their honeymoon and went to a diving site called Spot X. They were experienced divers. They were hoping to see some of the famous Grey Nurse (Sand Tigers) sharks in the area.
While under the diving group spotted a Great White. The group started to ascend up the anchor line and stopped at 5 metres to do a 3 minute safety stop. While they waited the Great White appeared under them. It was estimated at about 17 feet long. It started coming up towards Debbie Ford. John, her new husband pushed her out of the way and the shark took him.
Debbie was taken away in hysterics. She later held a memorial service at the site for him. She said "He took his own life for me"... He was a hero and a good husband. I loved him dearly". A wreath was laid on the water.
Just after the attack happened, fisherman and other dive boats went to the scene. The shark was still there and took a bait as soon as it was put into the water. For one and a half hours they fought with this shark trying desperately to get close enough to shoot it with a 303 rifle. During this struggle the shark vomited up the torso of John Ford. It finally bit through the line and escaped. The head of John Ford was found some days later on the bottom of the ocean.
This seems by many accounts to be a freak accident. The area was teeming with fish and the shark should have been well fed. There are a number of stories told about this shark in the weeks that followed including that it died when it ate the anchor off a dive boat. It was also apparently seen floating and dead by a helicopter but this information cannot be confirmed.”
The more recent shark attack in the Seychelles prompted me to do a bit of a Google on what
advice we Aussies give to locals and tourists so they have a fighting chance against sharks.
This is what we say:
• Do not swim, dive or surf where dangerous sharks are known to congregate, such as canal developments in Southern Queensland. (Oh I’m sure the owners of the expensive canal homes love this bit of advice! Must‘ve done wonders for property prices)
• Always swim, dive or surf with other people preferably at patrolled beaches. (Told you – keep people around you)
• Do not swim while bleeding.( What the ##%%&??)
• Do not swim in dirty or turbid water.
• Avoid swimming well offshore, near deep channels, at river mouths or along drop-offs to deeper water.
• If schooling fish start to behave erratically or congregate in large numbers, leave the water.
• Do not swim with pets and domestic animals. (Apparently sharks can smell dogs miles off, they love a bit of dog meat)
• Look carefully before jumping into the water from a boat or wharf. (because a Big White is going to pop it’s gaping jaw out of the water and swallow you right up – true - it’s happened – my mother told me)
• If possible do not swim at dusk, dawn or at night when some sharks may be more active.
• Do not swim near people fishing or spear fishing.
• If a shark is sighted in the area leave the water as quickly and calmly as possible. (Leaving quickly not a problem, but I’m not so sure about the calm bit))
• Do not wear jewellery or shiny objects as the reflections could be mistaken for those from fish scales.
• Do not swim near fur seal colonies especially during the pupping season” (Like we have seal colonies on every corner and canal development in Australia)
The article just gets better with some nifty ways to distract the shark if it’s heading in your general direction
“If you are in the water and you see a shark, stay calm! (Yep!)
It must be remembered that some stated methods of repelling sharks could, given different conditions and different sized animals result in an altering of the shark’s initial response and may unintentionally provoke an attack response in the very animal that it was meant to deter. (I think this was advice from the legal department so you can’t sue if you do any of the following and the shark still eats you)
Leave the area as quickly and as quietly as possible. (translates as - no hysterical screaming..!!!!!!)
Now here’s the really good bit (we teach these techniques in our schools kids in Australia – true!)
“However, if an attack is imminent try to keep the shark in sight and if it gets close then any action you take may disrupt the attack pattern, such as hitting the shark’s nose, gouging at its eyes, making sudden body movements, blowing bubbles, etc. (Of course..why didn’t I think of that? I’ll tell you why didn’t think of that because I’d be screaming hysterically as I ran (like Jesus) across the top of the water!)
But then this would never happen to me because as a wise man once said” Always keep a semi circle of people around you so if a shark comes, he’ll pick them off first.”