Just days after the beaches reopened at Newcastle amid sightings of several large sharks, including one massive great white, two paddlers found themselves stalked by a white shark off Bar Beach, as the predator followed them to shore.
Damien Rider is currently paddling from the Gold Coast to Sydney to raise awareness for child abuse, according to the Daily Telegraph, and on the leg where he spotted the shark, he was accompanied by his friend John Rowlatt. Eerily, Rider claims he dreamed about encountering a shark off the Hunter coast just two days ago, a premonition that came to pass when Rowlatt sighted the great white lurking near the pair just 800 meters from shore.
“The shark sort of came around behind us and we kept paddling but it popped up twice more alongside,” Rowlatt recalled. “He was kind of keeping an eye on us, stalking us. We got up to Merewether and decided to paddle in and he followed us in.”
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The incident marked Rider’s third interaction with a shark since embarking on his journey. Before arriving at Bar beach, he had also encountered a five-meter-long shark off Coffs Harbor and another near Iluka on the north coast.
“Most of them come up and then leave but this one was clearly stalking us,” he noted. “It’s a bit eerie when it is like that, especially when it’s a great white because they’re kind of creepy anyway.”
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Rider was on a kneeboard, using only his hands to paddle when the great white approached the pair, while Rowlatt had a modicum of protection from his perch in a kayak. As the duo made for shore, Rowlatt noted that he identified the shark as a great white when both the dorsal and tail fins broke the surface of the water.
“Between the two fins was about 2.5m so we estimated it to be about 3.5m. It was definitely a good size. I was jokingly saying: ‘I’ve got the paddle mate, you’ve got the arms going into the water so you’re a much bigger target than me.’ But we were both concerned and we did a bit of a risk assessment and I think it was a wise move to come in (to shore).”
Exclusive: Mark Richards talks surfing community’s reaction to great white shark in Newcastle: http://t.co/s5E44qPtiO pic.twitter.com/sa47s49iMk
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The encounter took place just a headland away from the area where a shark was spotted last week, preying upon a dolphin. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the beaches around Newcastle were closed for a record 10 days amid sightings of three different sharks, while several unfortunate dolphins washed ashore.
A spokesman for the local council said that the shark sighting was being investigated, according to the Newcastle Herald, as lifeguards patrolled on jetskis to make sure the great white had moved away from the beach.
[Image via 9 News]