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Understanding the Apex - Part 3

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Understanding the Apex - Part 3

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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Understanding the Apex - Part 2

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Understanding the Apex - Part 2

Understanding the Apex

Part 2 - Dustin's story

By Dustin Hollick - Surfer + Writer + Filmmaker

Instagram @dustohollick

Photo: Matt Draper @mattdraperphotography

Photo: Matt Draper @mattdraperphotography

It felt weird to turn around and walk back up the beach with perfect waves rolling through un-ridden in the background. The back of my wetsuit was sweaty from standing on the hot sand for an abnormally long amount of time.

The helicopter hovering overhead had by far the best view of the whole scene. Confused beachgoers milling around the foreshore; a gravel car park full of spectators and two boats. An Aluminum runabout further out and smaller zodiac closer in just behind the breakers.

A deckhand on the small zodiac was throwing a very large baited hook out repeatedly to try and catch the shark that was causing the commotion. The mission was to tag and release. Within 10 minutes the shark was hooked and dragged out to deeper waters to be worked on. I wondered how they would get the hook out…

Even after the shark was hooked and dragged further out to sea I didn’t go out for a surf. And despite the fact I have been surfing regularly and trying to rely on my instincts to warn me of any pre-imminent danger, this was just the latest in a series of events that have caused me to ponder: “just what has changed?”

"...despite the fact I have been surfing regularly and trying to rely on my instincts to warn me of any pre-imminent danger, this was just the latest in a series of events that have caused me to ponder: just what has changed?” - Dustin Hollick. Photo: Angie Davis

"...despite the fact I have been surfing regularly and trying to rely on my instincts to warn me of any pre-imminent danger, this was just the latest in a series of events that have caused me to ponder: just what has changed?” - Dustin Hollick. Photo: Angie Davis

Of course there are plenty of sharks in the ocean, and yes the area we live in is abundant with marine life, what scientists call a “healthy” part of the ocean. So why, if there is abundant marine life in our corner of ocean here, are surfers, swimmers, and body-boarders suddenly on the menu? I don’t have the answers to this question but there are many theories being put forward.

Dustin at home, enjoying his time in the ocean. Photo: Angie Davis

Dustin at home, enjoying his time in the ocean. Photo: Angie Davis

Personally I will continue surfing, I surfed twice today, and I get too grumpy if I don’t surf. But until we get some answers as to why the sharks are trying to feed on us or about the oceanic climate changes, or until some preventative measures are put in place, I will not let my four and seven-year-old boys surf or swim in the ocean. I believe after my 25 plus years spent in our Earth’s marine environment I should be able to recognize any signs of danger and react in time; if not my life has been amazing and I have no regrets. But to see a young child get mauled would not be a good thing at all. It’s sad that the ocean in this area has lost its innocence for so many beach goers; I hope we find some solutions soon.

Dustin having a chat between sets with Kelly Slater at Ballina's Northwall Beach, location of the controversial eco shark net system that was set to be installed this month but has been delayed.

Dustin having a chat between sets with Kelly Slater at Ballina's Northwall Beach, location of the controversial eco shark net system that was set to be installed this month but has been delayed.

To be continued - Part 3 - Tadashi's attack from the eyes of Brooke Mason.

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Sharks - are we missing the point?

Sharks - are we missing the point?

Last Tuesday’s attack at Lighthouse Beach, better known by locals as North Wall, tips us upwards of a dozen shark attacks along a 20-kilometre stretch of coast since February. Call it perception or what you will, but that’s a bloody high number of attacks...