Understanding the Apex

Part 3 - Brooke's story.

By Brooke Mason - Surfer

Instagram @brookiemason

Photo: Matt Draper @mattdraperphotography

Photo: Matt Draper @mattdraperphotography

Tasmanian surfer Brooke Mason had been living in Byron and was in the water next to Tadashi Nakahara on the morning of his attack.

Brooke on the morning of Tadashi's attack.

Brooke on the morning of Tadashi's attack.

Tadashi had just got barrelled right in front of me about five minutes before the attack, and I claimed it for him “yewwww!”. He was a super smiley guy and a good surfer I remember thinking he really kicks out his back foot on his turns and that's what I was trying to do. It was sunny and super fun, consistent surf with enough waves for everyone and there was hardly anyone out. I was just pinching myself thinking this place is heaven.

I watched Tadashi get dragged under about 20 meters from me, in a lull between the sets…He didn't make a sound just looked shocked and went under. I thought he initially went under for a swim, but his board had gone too and then there was all this blood. I got on my board with my arms and legs up in the air and was frozen to the spot. I told myself “if he comes up I'll go over there” but everything in my body was paralysed and I was just looking at the blood and the bubbles.

He didn't come up and I looked around me and everyone was paddling in super quietly and with as little splashing possible and I followed them until I was in waist deep water and looked around and one really brave guy was dragging Tadashi in. I took the guy next to me's board and he went to help them. I could see that Tadashi had lost his legs so I got the leg ropes off both boards to tourniquet his legs. Paddling in I was just waiting for it (the shark) to chomp my legs; it felt like a war zone and like everyone was going to die. I couldn't believe it when everyone was there at the beach and the bad luck for Tadashi that the shark happened to go for him. I've imagined the whole thing a million times and how many different ways it could have ended and it just came down to chance.

I haven't surfed Ballina since, it seems like the odds are way too dangerous there at the moment in my head, like a piece of bait, but hopefully that will settle down. I love crowds for the first time in my life! I think I'd prefer snapper with 1,000 people for a while. Something definitely has to be up. I honestly think that yes there are more people in the water but also the sharks are coming in because we have over-fished their ocean and so we give them no choice to come in closer to find a meal. Also with advances in technology you hear about every shark attack in a matter of hours and so it feels like there are more of them but maybe the information is just more accessible.

Brooke doing what she loves the most.

Brooke doing what she loves the most.

*Brooke has since returned to her homeland Tasmania where she is studying medicine and continues to surf.

To be continued - Part 4 - The Science.

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