By Calvin Palmer
A teenager escaped with a cut lip and ripped wetsuit yesterday morning when a five-foot shark hurled him off his surfboard.
Zac Skyring, 14, was taking an early morning surf with his father at Broken Head, just south of Byron Bay in New South Wales, when a bronze whaler swam up underneath his surfboard.
The shark hit the board and hurled Zac into the air.
“It was like a bronze flash and it happened really fast,” he said. “It was really forceful, very strong. But I was in shock — I didn’t really know what had happened.”
The impact knocked his surfboard into his face and gave him a split lip, which started bleeding profusely. His wetsuit was punctured and he was left with three distinct tooth marks in his arm.
His father, Nigel, saw the whole thing and paddled over to help. When he saw the blood coming out of his Zac’s mouth he thought the shark had grabbed him.
“I thought he’d been bitten on his side and had an internal injury,” Nigel said.
But Zac was still in one piece and the pair paddled back to the shore.
Despite his ordeal, Zac insisted on going to school.
Nigel Skyring believes the shark was a bronze whaler, about five-feet long, and said it was probably chasing a school of baitfish when it collided with Zac.
“I think it hit him and realized he wasn’t a fish so it let him go,” he said.
Father and son have been surfing together for over a decade and stressed that they had no problem with sharks.
“We strongly believe that we (surfers) are in their domain,” Nigel Skyring said.
Undaunted by his encounter, Zac said: “I’ll be back in their tomorrow.”