When humans and wildlife clash.
Sometimes when we’re in our element, so to speak, as an athlete would relate to, we are also in wildlife’s element, and the two don’t always safely mesh.
This is breaking news about Triple World Surfing Champion Mick Fanning making a lucky escape after a close encounter with a shark in the final of the J-Bay open in South Africa. (Watch the video here.)
Sky news reports that the final was just minutes old when the shark surfaced alongside Fanning, and knocked him off his board.
The story unfolded quickly and dramatically, with help arriving quickly to help him out of the water.
Fanning was not injured, but the incident left him shaken and grateful for the escape.
“I was just sitting there and I felt something just get stuck in my leg rope, and I was kicking trying to get it away,” said Fanning of the encounter.
“I just saw fins. I was waiting for the teeth.”
“Organizers say that two sharks have been spotted in the area and have put the final on hold with the risk being ‘too high’ to continue competition.” ~ Sky News
One wonders if shark spotting is something that competition organizers engage in in the days before the event.
Fellow competitor, Julian Wilson, was also pulled out of the water by league officials and the completion was suspended.
The waters in Jeffrey’s Bay, as reported by Reuters, are among the most shark-infested in the world. They also report that a surfer was killed by a Great White shark close to Jeffrey’s Bay in 2013.
Sharks, keepers of balance in the Eco-system of the oceans, deserve a healthy respect.
While this type if attack is fraught with obvious concern for the humans involved, I’d like to point out that aside of Mr. Fanning’s attempt to keep the shark at bay, no other violence was directed towards the animal.
History has proven that all too often, in the aftermath of an attack, sharks are hunted and destroyed out of revenge.
We are however in their habitat, and the natural activities of an animal in their home surroundings are to be expected and respected.
There is much to be grateful for today, in the life of brave athlete, Mick Fanning. His presence of mind is indeed to be applauded.
Author: Monika Carless
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Vido Still