Video: Champion surfer Mick Fanning escapes shark attack
by Sophia Heath
American surf champion Mick Fanning made an incredible escape on Sunday (July 19) after being attacked by a Great White Shark during the J-Bay Open at South Africa's Jeffreys Bay.
The 34-year-old survived without a scratch, but footage from the incident shows how fortunate he was not to suffer serious injuries.
“I was just sitting there and I felt something grab or get stuck in my leg rope and I instantly just jumped away,” a shaken Fanning said afterwards.
“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.”
Australian and world title rival Julian Wilson was also in the water at the time and has been called a hero after swimming towards the shark to help Fanning.
"It came up and he was wrestling it, and I saw he got knocked off his board," Wilson said. "I was like I've got a board, if I can get there I can stab it or whatever, I've got a weapon."
Water patrol crews sped towards the pair to scare off the shark and they were both pulled to safety and the rest of the competition was abandoned.
In what must be a mother’s worst nightmare Fanning’s mum was watching the competition on telelvision and saw the attack happen.
"I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I thought we'd lost him," Elizabeth Osborne told press.
"I was absolutely terrified. I went over to the television almost as though I could pull him out... to save him.”
Despite several high profile incidents in the past few months, including several terrifying shark attacks on boats, a study has shown that the risk of shark attacks has actually plummeted since the 1950s.