Surfer launched into air in shark attack – 25 September 2017 — North Point, Gracetown, West Australia

Catherine Visser
Catherine Visser

Catherine Vissers, 28, escaped injury when a Great White shark struck her surfboard from underneath launching her into the air.

The 3.5 metre shark left bite marks in her board.

The incident happened just before 6pm at the North Point surf spot, near Gracetown, southwest Australia on Monday 25 September 2017.

Surfer Tom Van Beem was the only other person in the water at the time. He’s quoted in the press as saying:

Tom Van Beem
Tom Van Beem

“I felt the water move underneath me and then all of a sudden the girl next to me was knocked off her board by this huge shark.

“She’s just sort of got knocked up and over and there was a big splash and then I saw the shark’s body follow with the pectoral fin and the tail.

“The shark came out of the water and landed in between us.

“I was only a few meters away.

“I’m a lifeguard, and I have some training for shark situations, so the first thing I did was ask if she was OK; I knew that if the shark had hit one of her major arteries, she would have only had a minute or so before she’d pass out from blood loss.

“Once she said she was OK, we paddled 50 meters straight to the rocks, floated over the barnacles, and scurried up as fast as possible.

“I just put my head down and paddled as fast as I could.

“I had this sinking feeling that it was going to hit me, but we’re very lucky that no one was injured and everyone’s fine, just a few minor dings on her board.

“It must have had its mouth open because there was three pretty big teeth marks in her board.

“She was pretty rattled, tearing up, just kind of in shock I guess. I think we all were.

“If it wanted to, it could’ve taken a big limb or something like that.

Catherine's surfboard with shark bite marks
Catherine’s surfboard with shark bite marks

Catherine, from Belgium, told Dutch newspaper Nieuwsblad: “Ik heb er niets van gezien. Ik dacht dat het een stomme dolfijn was. (I didn’t see anything. I thought it was a dumb dolphin.)

Her father was quoted as saying when he asked her if she would go back in the water she said: “Oh Dad, I’ve been attacked. The chance that a shark will hit me again, is minimal.”

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Youtube: Tom Van Beem decribes of the shark attack

 

 

Sources:

FATAL – 4 September 2011 – Boneyards, Bunker Bay, Cape Naturaliste, West Australia – body boarder attacked

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A 21-year-old body boarder (name not reported) died after a shark bit off his legs. He was body boarding on Sunday 4 September 2011 with a close friend and about 5 other surfers at a surf spot called Boneyards at Bunker Bay on Cape Naturaliste in West Australia. Witnesses reckon the shark was a 4.5 metre great white.

According to media reports he died before his friend could pull him ashore. He had lost both his legs in the attack.

A police spokesperson was quoted as saying:

“Out of nowhere it would appear that the young fellow has been taken by a shark. No one saw the shark itself but they’ve observed the young fellow’s body in the water in amongst some blood.

“His mate and someone else that was surfing with him have pulled the body ashore, emergency services have been notified, but unfortunately the nature of the injuries mean the young fellow was deceased before he was pulled from the water.

“You have to take your hat off to the young fellow who was surfing with him and his mate for bringing him ashore, the nature of his injuries were significant.”

He said it was perfect shark conditions. “It was dark and gloomy water, overcast skies, light rain falling, there was whale action in the bay and some seals about.”

The beach was packed with people at the time of the attack. According to a witness the shark came up beneath him, grabbed the body boarder and pulled him below the surface.

There is a seal colony around the point at Cape Naturaliste and it is thought the shark may have mistaken the body boarder for a seal.

This post may be updated later with more detail, if we get it.

Sources:
The West Australian

The Daily Mail