Surfer’s life-saving shark attack tactic
A 60-year-old surfer fought off a Great White shark by punching it repeatedly in the eye after it bit his arm and latched on to his surfboard.
Aucklander Nick Minogue was attacked yesterday while surfing at Pauanui Beach, a two-hour drive from Auckland, around 11.30am by what he and shark experts believe was a three metre-long great white.
"I was quite a long way out, there was quite a solid swell running, I was just paddling along and got hit on the side of my elbow and forearm," Minogue said.
"By the time I realised what was going on its teeth were definitely latched on to the front section of the board."
Minogue said he instantly remembered he'd heard sharks particularly don't like it if you punched them in the nose or eye.
"So I actually shouted at it 'f*** off!' and went to punch it in the eye and missed," he said.
"Then I pulled my fist back and shouted 'f*** off!' again and got it right smack bang in the eye. It's quite a big eye, about three knuckles across, and it's eye kind of looked up and rolled up.
"In between the two punches it crunched down a bit more on the board and then disengaged its teeth, got its jaws off and then I got brushed by the dorsal fin and the tail fin and swam off."
Minogue said it was only him and a German surfer about 50 metres further into shore at the Pauanui break when the shark attacked.
"He heard me screaming, it was just the two of us out there at this stage, and we just started paddling in as fast as we could. The German guy was kind of screaming the whole way which probably made me paddle even faster."
"I got a bit ahead of him and he was a little bit behind so probably worried the shark would come back."
Minogue also says he was "definitely bumped by something" on the way back into shore.
"It was a grey shark with a white bottom, probably a great white. It was a big head and jaw. I kind of sat up in shock and decided to hit it. That was the only thing to do."
Department of Conservation marine scientist Clinton Duffy said "the photograph of the bite to the board is consistent with a fairly small white shark, aka white pointer, great white".
Marine scientist Riley Elliott, the "shark man", also said the description of the shark by Minogue matches that of a great white.
Pauanui Surf Life Saving club captain Stuart Upjohn came and attended to Minogue after he was back on shore.
"We were setting up for patrol this morning and around 11.30am we got a phone call from someone down at the airfield saying someone had just come out of the water that had been attacked by a shark," Upjohn said.
"He was a bit shaken and had an adrenaline rush I guess.
"It's actually the first time I've ever heard on the Coromandel someone getting into that situation with a shark, and I've been lifeguarding here for coming up on eight seasons."
The Pauanui Beach was closed to the public for two hours following the attack.
When back on shore Minogue says he wasn't sure how bad the cut on his arm was.
"There was blood dripping out the sleeve of my wetsuit. Thankfully it wasn't too deep. Two teeth put holes in my wetsuit but only one punctured the skin," Minogue said.
The Takapuna resident says he believes his full length wetsuit contributed to him escaping more serious injury.
"I've still got an arm and fingers, it could have been a lot worse," he says.
"I actually have a boys surfing trip planned to Dunedin later next week, so will have to take another board."