My Shark Attack Story...
The following is my account of my shark "encounter" on Jan 18th this year, this was written by me for Zoo magazine in the UK, it is the first time I have written it down in detail and was a bit of therapy for me maybe, don't know why i'm sharing it here...but I think its important for all of us to realise how short life can be, and how lucky we are, especially to experience surfing...
No worries i'm a pretty upfront sorta guy anywho so shouldn't be a problem...here we go,
-Been surfing for nearly 40 years and only seen 2 sharks, they say you never see the one that gets you eh, I usually surf with mates but this day I left early from work and went by myself, even after 2 mates texting me and telling me the surf was xxxxx and don't bother...i'm 45 year old and need the excersise so I went anyway, even stingers on the tide line when I got there...sooo many things indicating not to go out, bugger.
-Unknown to me at that time there'd been a shark sighting at 9am that morning at the same beach (Redhead Beach) also there was a shark alarm at a beach 5kms North of us at 11am the same day and that beach was closed as a result. I had no strange feeling that day, i've surfed at that beach for most of my life and NEVER saw a shark there, the last attack there was in 1932 (Google Reg Ogilive-Shark attack) very similar stories we have, uncanny really. I wasn't thinking anything before the attack but it my first thought when it hit me was i've been king hit by someone, then realised the hit was to big to be human, the shark was a 3.1 mtr Bull Shark weighing approx 350kgs and it was like a rubber boat hitting me at high speed.
The shark has been identified by shark experts at Taronga Zoo from the bite radius-teethmarks and pressure.
-My wife and 3 children have had their own trauma in different ways, nightmares, constant fears of losing their father now, my wife Angela has been a tower of strength the whole time, taking care of the 3 kids and visiting me twice a day for over 3 weeks and dealing with the media and fielding phone calls and texts, she really had her hands full eh, I often say she has 3 kids and a high risk husband!
-The hit was real hard, their MO is to hit you hard to stun you then start chomping, i'm laying on my board waiting for a wave and he/she? hits me hard from underneath (insert Jaws theme here) and clamps down hard on my right thigh/bum above the knee luckily for me, he hits me, bites hard and drags me under and thrashes me, this tears 2kgs of muscle from me and he leaves 2 teethmarks on my right Femur bone, if he'd broken that bone the leg would have been removed my surgeon has told me. He also bites my surfboard which causes him to release me to spit out the fibreglass caught in his teeth, at this moment I pop up and he is in front of me just laying there, idle it seems but time went funny at that point so I dunno, I see his body and his Dorsal fin, about 30-40cm's in height, 1 metre in front of me, even in shock I realise I only have one chance, the surfboard, I pull on the legrope and get the surfboard between him and I and pull myself weakly onto it, shock and bloodloss is happening fast.
I start paddling to shore which is 40 meters, getting weaker and fearing i'm gonna faint and drown, I see surfers panicking en masse heading for the shore and feel very lonely, i'll never forget that moment it was awful it really confirmed what was happening behind me...i'm thinkin of my kids at this point...i'm not game to look over my shoulder to see if i'm being chased but that gets the better of me and I look over my left shoulder behind me and see the worst possible scenario, a 1ft wide 20ft long bloodtrail thick in the water coming from behind me and I think xxxxx he's got my Femoral Artery, and there he is 10 feet behind me in the bloodtrail following, then I start to really wig out and call for help, profanities were heard coming from me as I cursed him for trying to eat me, I was almost pleading with him to just fleshin' off and leave me alone, stressing out in a major way, my jaw hasn't worked properly since that day for some reason. The ocean had not a wave to throw my way at this point...fuuuuccckkk, I look to my left and 20 metres away is my friend Nathan Visscher, his face tells the story, he's slowly paddling towards me...then he slows down cause he sees the shark following me, and thinks this is it for Lenny and doesn't wanna get involved understanerbly. I've turned back to the shore waiting for the inevitable whilst trying to paddle quietly but fast so he doesn't sense me, then I jump outa my skin as something lands on my left shoulder, its Nathans hand, fleshin' me this father of 2 young ones has put his life on the line to help me, i'm stunned, he said later that my face was grey and my eyeballs are popping like golfballs, he reassures me we are gona get there but I dont respond to well cause i'm totally freaking, a wave comes I blindly catch it, somehow making it to the bottom, Nathan has missed the damn wave because he thought we may get tangled up together, he quickly catches one and we are suddenly close to the shore, the wave dies and i'm left in waist deep water and realise i'm not outa the woods yet, Nathan arrives behind me and we struggle onto a little wave and make it to the sand!! I roll off my board onto my back looking at the blue sky thinkin wow I made it, i'm alive...euphoric, smiling I think from memory, I raise my head and look at my leg and see a huge flap of fatty skin and realise he's got me a beauty, but my Femoral Artery is ok, its only later when I see the photos do I realise how much he took.
Shock hits me and I have massive pain in my chest all over, I think great, I beat the bugger at his own game and now i'm gonna have a heart attack!! The lifeguards 2 off duty paramedics are all over me, oxygen helps a great deal as they put a sand filled oxygen mask on my mouth, Nathan has a legrope tournique high around my thigh, someone has there thumb jammed on my Femoral Artery just in case, some kid has my other leg raised for some reason, hundreds of people on the beach freaking!!
So I'm stable soon and off in the hospital in the meatwagon crackin jokes all the way!! The crackin of jokes decreased after 3 weeks on the Morphine though. I'm still here, have my leg still ,and a crazy story to tell forever!!
Recovery has been tough, I thought I'd be outa hospital in 3 days....24 days and 6 surgeries later I get outa hospital and breathe some real air, unreal... still got months of healing, several muscles severed or just gone, lotsa rehab for body and brain, surfing, well ive tried but it aint pretty, seein shadows everywhere, early days yet...gonna ride a skateboard for awhile maybe.
But I will surf again mate, just not as much as I used too, freaks me out too much now.
My new nickname is Shark Bait, not surprising really, everyone wants to surf with me cause theres less chance of me getting hit again!!
Regards, Glen Folkard.....phew!!