27 May 2005

Shark attack will not keep me away says surfer

A 32-year-old British tourist is recovering in his hotel, with 100 stitches and major cuts to his body, after narrowly escaping death in an attack by what is believed to have been a ragged-tooth shark.

Jay Catherall, of Worcester, England, and two other surfers were riding the waves at Whacky Point in Kei Mouth - a spot famous for its beach breaks - when the attack took place on Wednesday.

Catherall remained conscious throughout and was able to give a vivid description of his first encounter with a shark, although it had taken place "in a flash".

"I felt something pulling me backwards. I thought it was just the current. But after the second pull I realised it was something in the water," Catherall said from his Morgan Bay holiday accommodation.

After the second "pull", Catherall said, the shark disappeared and he managed to float with his surfboard to the shore.

It was only then that he realised he had been bitten - twice. He had not felt "a thing", he said.

"It wasn't a violent attack. I did not feel any of the biting. It was just a sensation. I remember repeatedly beating the shark on the nose," he said.

Chris Bodgers, of Morgan Bay, one of the men surfing with Catherall at the time, said: "I must admit that we broke a few of the rules when entering the water."

He explained that, although the water was clear, there was a sardine run as well as a shad run. Also, a school of dolphins was spotted and gannets were diving into the sea.

"The sea was busy - it was like an aquarium. It was dodgy," Bodgers said.

"We probably shouldn't have entered the water, but all was clear and we were just hoping to catch a few waves."

Bodgers, who had been "riding the wave of my life", did not see the attack.

District surgeon Nico Veltman spent three hours stitching the gaping wounds to Catherall's buttocks, upper left leg and right arm.

Catherall, who visits the area from England every winter with his wife Nicky, was adamant the incident wouldn't put him off the sport.

"I'm so lucky. It was a close call, but I'll be heading for the surf as soon as I heal."

Source: www.iol.co.za


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