Bull shark attacks surfer
SURFER Kenny Turk is nursing a shark bite wound that required 63 stitches.
The 22-year-old is currently resting on the Gold Coast after being bitten at a break just north of Mullaway Headland.
In a tale to rattle any surfer, Kenny said it all happened in a matter of seconds.
"I rode a wave, a nice left-hander, and flicked off it and I was about to start paddling back into the line-up when it happened," Kenny said.
"My feet were dangling under the board in about waist-deep water, and as I turned jumping back on my board, I felt something grab my foot from the bottom.
"I just tried to pull my foot out of its mouth, I knew I had disturbed something. I could feel headshakes and then it let go of me, I didn't see anything. It only lasted for a few seconds."
Kenny said he was about 20 to 30 metres off Mullawarra Beach and experts now believe the bite marks point toward a juvenile bull shark as the likely culprit.
The surf was dark and murky, after the recent rain, and the skies were overcast.
"In hindsight, I guess the conditions weren't the best. There was a lot of kelp on the bottom, but what can I say, I've surfed that beach all my life," he said.
"I was out there with my brother Justin and about 20 other blokes last Saturday when it went down."
A friend heard Kenny swearing and helped him up the beach. He was rushed to Coffs Harbour Health Campus by ambulance and was released on Monday.
Kenny is now facing a six-week lay-up and time off work.
A medical researcher with detailed knowledge of shark bites yesterday analysed the wound pictures.
Professor Mike Bennett from the University of Queensland's School of Biomedical Sciences said the wound indicated it would have been a shark about 1.4 metres in length.
"There appears to be some dark spots or small round lacerations that may be indicative of more conical teeth puncturing the skin on the underside of the foot," Prof Bennett said.
"This would be consistent with a wobbegong bite, as their teeth are sharp, slightly curved and needle-like.
"However, the underside of the foot shows a more crescent-shaped wound, which would be consistent with the cutting teeth of a whaler shark, such as a bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) or bronze whaler (C. brachyurus), both of which occur in the area and are known to frequent murky, inshore waters.
"This attack underlines the fact that by entering turbid waters, particularly around dawn and dusk, you significantly increase the risk of this type of event occurring.
"On the balance, it was probably a small whaler shark, and the attack was not 'pressed home', more like an explorative bite to see what the object was."