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.”