Australian surfer Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark live on TV while competing in the finals of a WSL contest. The shocking scenes from Jeffreys Bay in South Africa were being beamed live around the world when the Great White attacked Fanning.
Happily, the three time ASP World Champion survived the attack unscathed, although clearly very distressed when he spoke to the media after the attack.
“I was waiting for the teeth to come at me”
“I was just sitting there and I felt something just get stuck in my leg rope, and I was kicking trying to get it away,” Fanning told a reporter immediately after the attack. “It just kept coming at my board and I was kicking and screaming. I just saw fins, I didn’t see any teeth. I was waiting for the teeth to come at me as I was swimming.”
“I punched it in the back. I’m totally fine, I’ve got nothing wrong with me. There’s a small depression in my board and my leg rope got bitten and I’m totally tripping out.”
The contest, where Fanning was in the final with fellow Aussie Julian Wilson, was immediately called off. In a statement released by the WSL, commissioner Kieren Perrow said “We are incredibly grateful that no one was seriously injured today.”
“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 safety of our athletes is a priority for the WSL and, after discussions with both Finalists, we have decided to cancel the remainder of competition at the J-Bay Open”
Sharks attacks on surfers are relatively rare, and this is the first instance in history where a pro has been unfortunate enough to be attacked while competing in a live televised event.