Abe McGrath, 35, was surfing with friends early on Sunday morning, 10 September 2017, at Main Beach, Iluka, New South Wales, Australia when he was attacked by a 3.5 metre Great White shark.
The incident happened around 6am. McGrath was lying on his board about 300m north of the Illuka Wall.
The shark attacked from underneath and flung McGrath into the air. His board was snapped in half with the impact. McGrath landed back in the water and was fortunate to come away with a torn wetsuit and relatively minor lacerations to his right hip.
“He was laying on his board and he got attacked from below really aggressively, the force of the attack snapped his board,” McGrath’s friend Bryce Cameron, who was on the beach and about to head into the water when the attack occurred, said.
“The impact lifted him up. The shark was coming from the deep and hit (Abe’s board) with its nose and opened its mouth and latched on the board.
Cameron said shark got most of the board in its mouth.
“He [McGrath] got a good look at it. He said it was a 3.5m white pointer. In the big scheme of things that is a juvenile but it is still big enough to kill.”
McGrath said the shark circled him after the attack and then swam off.
With the help of his friend Elijah ‘Hobbit’ Colbey, he retrieved one half of his surfboard and paddled to shore. His friends drove him to Ballina Hospital and he was then flown to Lismore Hospital, New South Wales, for further treatment and discharged Sunday night.
Cameron was on the beach during the attack and said if McGrath had been sitting on the board instead of lying on it when the shark struck, he would have lost his leg.
Cameron posted this on Instagram: “Life could of been very different this morning…. so stoked to still have our mate and not witness something far worse. Our arrival to iluka this morning, @abemcgrath hit by a juvenile white pointer. So stoked to see him able to limp up the beach.”
“Abe was left floating in the water with a couple of teeth marks on his body. He scrambled in the water and got washed in by the next wave.”
“He is pretty much the luckiest man on earth right now,” Cameron said.
“He was stoked, he wasn’t in shock yet, he was really happy to be alive and in front of his mates. We were all giving him big hugs and felt pretty lucky to have him there.”
Colbey, the only other surfer in the water with McGrath at the time, was quoted as saying:
“We were 50m apart and it was just me and him out there.
“A good wave rolled past, we were both watching it, and then I looked back and saw Abe skimming across the water splashing.
“Then I hear f**k off, f**k off and then my nickname Hobbit being called out.
“I started paddling towards him for help and then my mind clicked to it being the worst possible outcome.”
“I grabbed his two broken bits of surfboard and we looked at each other and counted our blessings that we could actually walk away.
“He was very stoked to be able to walk up the beach with me … we could look back on it and be very stoked but also shaken up and in shock.”
Marcel Brundler, 37, narrowly escaped a shark attack while surfing at Cathedral Rock, Lorne, Victoria, Australia, by punching the shark as it attacked him. The shark left bite marks in his board and tore at his wetsuit, but he suffered no injuries.
Brundler told media the shark was a 3-metre Great White.
The incident happened on Tuesday 25 August 2017.
He said initially he thought the shark was a dolphin, “but then I realised fairly quickly [it was a shark] because it was more than half a metre wide, with a massive dorsal fin, and it looked at me.
“Then it kind of dived off, came back and circled me, and took a fair notch out of my board, circled me again, then it got me on my wetsuit, it got me on my hip.
“Luckily, it’s just a little scrape on my skin.”
“I was shouting and punching it while it attacked me.
“I was really, really lucky this wave popped up out of nowhere,” which he managed to catch and surf it to the shore.
Lucas Von Graevenitz Sanchez, a witness who watched the attack through his binoculars from the shore, was quoted as saying the shark “was really massive”.
A local police spokesperson said there were four surfers in the water at the time and they paddled in pretty quickly after the incident.
Brundler said he would surf again, though “maybe not on my own”.
Paul Goff, 48, was bodyboarding 30 metres off Casuarina Point in Bunbury, Western Australia, when a 4-metre great white shark knocked him off his board and then returned and bit his board before disappearing.
Paul made it to shore uninjured, but he was treated for shock. He did not need to be taken to hospital.
A spearfisherman (name not released) received minor lacerations to his knee after a shark bit him while he was spearfishing off Green Island, New South Wales, Australia. The incident happened on 2 December 2012.
He was taken to Port Macquarie Base Hospital with minor injuries, which did not require stitches.
According to other divers, the victim had a dead fish attached to his weight belt, which attracted the shark.