The shark attack involving Australian surfer Mick Fanning that occurred during the WLS competition at Jeffrey Bay in South Africa has become global news. It’s the first time a professional surfer has been attacked by a shark during a contest that’s being televised live.
Everybody from dedicated surf publications through to the likes to The BBC and The New York Times have picked up on the story, as the world watches the startling footage in the kind of numbers that surfing has never known.
Mick Fanning, a short time after his narrow escape, gave an interview where emotions were clearly running high.
Clearly shaken, and with the enormity of what had happened to him earlier in the day sinking in, the three time ASP World Champion appeard to be completely drained as he tried to explain what had happened, and reassure the world that he’s alright.
Of course, it wasn’t just Fanning in the water. Fellow Aussie Julian Wilson, who was competing against Fanning in the final, was sitting in the line up with him. Wilson and Fanning are currently sitting 3rd and 2nd respectively in the WSL world rankings, so in the heat of competition are rivals.
However, when Wilson saw his friend in danger, there was only one thing on his mind. Despite Fanning desperately waving at him to get to the beach, Wilson put his own life on the line by paddling towards the incident to try to stop the Great White from attacking.
Back on dry land, Julian Wilson battled his emotions to speak to the press, giving this highly charged interview.
Also out there were a whole host of photographers and other even personnel, who were just meters away from the shocking scenes. WSL Commissioner Kieren Perrow was quick to praise their reactions in the face of such remarkable events.
“We are incredibly grateful that no one was seriously injured today,” said Perrow in a statement to the press. “Mick’s composure and quick acting in the face of a terrifying situation was nothing short of heroic and the rapid response of our Water Safety personnel was commendable – they are truly world class at what they do.”
The rest of the surfing world have, of course, been quick to add their own reactions to the scenes from the J-Bay comp.
Hey Mick, I am so glad you are ok!!! Crazzzayyy stuff… Thankful no one was hurt.. @Mick_Fanning
— Bethany Hamilton (@bethanyhamilton) July 20, 2015
Happy u alive brother, that was God! And Julian, what u did ..paddling to try to help Mick, was incredible! So courageous both of u guys! 👏 Yes, we have the same goal but when we need each other we are a family! Love you guys @mfanno @julian_wilson . lll Poderia ser qualquer um, poderia ser eu! Mick, feliz por vc estar vivo irmao, foi Deus! E Julian, o que voce fez foi incrível, ( ele remou pra onde o mick tava e tentou ajudar ele) . Os dois foram muito corajosos! Sim, estamos buscando o mesmo objetivo mas quando um precisa do outro somos uma familia. Amo vcs @mfanno @julian_wilson A photo posted by Gabriel Medina (@gabrielmedina) on
Glad to know this guy and even happier that he swam/walked away unscathed. The only mark on him is a tiny scratch (probably from hitting the shark) on his left hand knuckle. I got an email from a friend tonight who said he clearly saw a shark figure in a wave during the quarterfinals from a drone shot. There were multiple water photogs (including @jimmicane who shot this photo) swimming all day. I believe good things come to good people and although you can’t say this was ‘good’, the outcome was amazing. @mfanno’s instincts kicked into high gear and his scramble to face the shark and keep the board between them may have saved him. The scariest moment was when he turned around to face where the shark would be coming from after swimming 20 meters towards shore. I can’t even imagine the vulnerability he must’ve felt. Great job by the contest announcers, water safety for getting right on it, @julian_wilson for paddling to help a friend out and basically everyone there to support. Hey, you didn’t surf half bad this week either! #GiveHimTheTrophy!
Just crazy- so glad @mfanno and @julian_wilson dodged this natural bullet today. So surreal! Again – happy all ended without injury… A photo posted by Lamiroy Surf Academy (@lamiroysurf) on
Just watched video of @Mick_Fanning and the shark in the surf contest, glad your safe bud!!
— Anastasia Ashley (@AnastasiaAshley) July 19, 2015
And, of course, the internet wouldn’t be the internet if an event as big as this didn’t spark a massive reaction. After realising the Mick Fanning had escaped unscathed, people started to celebrate in the most 21st century way possible: in the form of memes.
The final word, of course, should go to Mick Fanning himself, who told the press afterwards “I just can’t believe it. To walk away from that, I’m just so stoked. I want to let all my family and friends know that I’m okay.”