Surfer's close call near fatal shark attack spot
A SURFER has escaped a close encounter with a shark at Minnie Water on Thursday in what has been described by friend Aaron Aitken as an eerie case of deja vu.
According to Mr Aitken's statement to Dorsal Shark Reports, two friends were surfing the main beach, only a few kilometres north of a fatal shark attack earlier this month, when a juvenile white shark measuring approximately three metres, approached them.
"One of the surfers caught the last wave leaving Mark out in the water," Mr Aitken said.
"He heard a loud splashing noise behind him and turned around to see a shark tail splashing approximately one metre from him."
Mr Aitken said his friend believed the shark had charged him and turned away at the last second at which point, he took the opportunity to catch a wave into shore.
"He was so happy to see that wave," he said.
Mr Aitken said he and his mates were visiting Minnie Water as part of a surfing tour of the coast.
"This was the first stop on our trip, and we were going to be there for the weekend when this happened," he said.
"We knew about the tragedy near there a few weeks before, so a lot of us decided to give it a miss. Out of the 12 of us, only those two guys went out."
The incident on Thursday was eerily similar to a previous incident involving a shark at Minnie Water for Mr Aitken.
"Two years ago, we had almost the exact same type of encounter," he said.
"I was sitting out there with my father-in-law and kids that day when a shark came straight at us and almost did the exact same thing; it turned at the last second and cruised off."
While news of this latest shark encounter has left some anxious, especially given its proximity to the fatal attack at Wilson's Headland, Mr Aitken said it hasn't deterred he or his friends from getting out on the water.
But it has made them a little uneasy.
"We just went for an early surf this morning (further up the coast) but on the way there we joked about what the ocean would bring us today," he said.
"Thankfully it was a non-event, but it's always in the back of your mind more these days.
- 'Minnie crew' rocked by shark tragedy
- 'Tug of war with a shark': Diver's hammerhead survival
- VIDEO: Shark spotted in shallow water at Minnie Water
- Seaside town shocked after 'freak' shark attack on boy
"I'm an avid supporter of any kind of shark technology or deterrent because before, it was a situation where you were aware of them, but you never had any interaction with them. Now it feels like every time you go surfing you feel like something is more likely to happen."
Given the spate of attacks this year, including two fatal incidents, it's understandable Mr Aitken and many others in the surfing community feel the same way.
"I've been surfing all my life and, growing up in Kingscliff, I'd always be in the water but had never seen a shark. Now, in the last ten years in particular, it feels like there's a shark sighting or encounter almost every day," he said.
"Even the guy at Kingscliff who was killed a few weeks ago; we were surfing only a couple hundred metres up the beach when that attack happened."
In the meantime, the surfing tour continues with plans to return to Minnie Water in the future.
"We often camp at Minnie Water National Park because it's such a beautiful place," he said.
"For me, Minnie isn't just about surfing, it's a really good holiday spot and a perfect place for kids, so we'll definitely be back."