21 December 2012 A SCOTTISH surfer has told of his terror as he fought off a 6ft tiger shark Down Under.
Richard Wands, 33, hit the shark with his board, and yelled to alert fellow surfers at Trigg Beach, off Perth, Western Australia.
He then ran 300 metres up the beach and alerting a surf life-saving officer.
Tiger sharks are considered the second most dangerous shark to humans, after the great white shark.
The beach will remain closed indefinitely while the Department of Fisheries monitor the situation, with helicopters are circling overhead and City of Stirling officers patrolling the beaches to prevent people entering the water.
In an Australian radio interview he said:“I genuinely think this thing was looking for a limb, if not more than that.
“If it had struck blood my gut feeling is that might have encouraged the other sharks to get involved as well, and then there might be a different story today.
He said: “I saw this tiger shark swim right underneath my feet and my heart kind of stopped pretty much as it was and it was only one-and-a-half to two metres, and t did look threatening when it was there right underneath my board. I thought oh my word, I shouted the old “shark” word just to raise the alarm to the people in the vicinity.
“It did a circle around me, pretty sharp, I thought I might be in be trouble shortly, and sure enough it went off and then I saw it turn and it came straight for me, in a dead straight line, undeviating, and it genuinely felt like a true final approach, as it were. It definitely felt super-threatening and it wasn’t changing its course.
“So it was a fight or flight moment, I just hopped out of my board real quick, I was out of my depth treading water, and then as it just got within striking distance I just tried to fight my board into its face. I honestly don’t know if I got it or not, it couldn’t have been far away.
“That was just enough to deter it, and I just saw it go round and then it came back for a second go and I made another effort to fight my board into its face and do just enough to deter it effectively.
“I could virtually touch this thing (the shark) this was literally on me, I was trying to run to get it, to let it know I wasn’t food. I saw its whole face right in front of me. I was treading water with my head only slightly above the water.
“ My honest opinion is that was definitely going to have a shot at me. That’s the way it felt. People will probably argue it was only having a look or it wasn’t going to attack. This was the most threatening thing ever.
“It was absolutely heart-stopping and it was on me. So I fought my board into its face and really did everything I could to dissuade it, and then I just saw it turn and it literally just came off its course and it didn’t actually touch me and I thought this was my only opportunity to paddle like stink for the beach. Luckily enough a wave happened to pitch up at the most convenient moment ever and I just belly-flopped onto it and just ran it in on my front.
“This was definitely a threat, I was utterly convinced. The guys I was shouting to wanted surf on for a while, I had to use some reasonably flamboyant language to convey this message. Eventually we got on the beach and I think they believed me.”
Richard, a keen surfer from Perth, Scotland, emigrated to Perth in Western Australia eight months ago to become a driller with a Norwegian oil company – and pursue his love of surfing.
He described his encounter of Wednesday morning (19 Dec) as "the most frightening thing ever."
He had just completed three to four waves when he spotted the tiger shark. At the time, he did not know it was one of 13 feeding on the carcass of a dolphin.
The shark circled Richard and went under his surf board. He could see his head
and tail and was "petrified."
"It was a heart-stopping moment and was the meanest, nastiest, most frightening thing ever," Richard said during interviews with Australiantelevision and radio.
The tiger shark was within arm’s reach of him and at one point seemed to be coming straight for him so Richard got off his board and used it to try and defend himself.
"I speared the board into the water to try and deter it. That seemed to work but it came back again so I used the board again and it moved away," he said.
Richard then quickly made for the beach which was about 40 to 50 metres away.
"I was totally scared and definitely thought I would be coming out of the water with one appendage fewer," he said.
Richard alerted Surf Rescue about the shark but did not realise there were others in the water. It was only later he found out there was a group of 13 feeding on the dolphin carcass. He loves surfing but admitted the incident has "put me off a bit."
"Next time, I may not be so lucky," he added.
Richard was brought up in Perth in Scotland but took up surfing when he was about eight while on regular summer holidays with his family in the county. He worked in the oil industry in Aberdeen for a time but emigrated to Perth in Western Australia eight months ago to become a driller with a Norwegian oil company.
His father Andrew, who lives in Canisbay, yesterday spoke of his relief that his son had escaped unscathed in his run-in with the shark.
Richard has a twin brother Christopher and a sister, Olivia.
Dad Andrew said he and the family spent their summer holidaysin Caithness.
Andrew's grandparents came from Halkirk and Westerdale and although he was born in Glasgow and worked in Perthshire, he loves the far north anddecided to retire here.
His sons took an interest in surfing when they were young and learned their skills in Caithness waters. They started at Dunnet but also surfedat Brims Ness and Thurso East. Since then Richard has enjoyed the sport in various parts of the world, including the west coast of America,Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.
His love of surfing, beaches and the sun was one of the reasons he decided to emigrate earlier this year.
However, he was back in the far north on a visit in September and while he was here surfed at St John's Loch in Dunnet.
After this week's incident, Richard contacted his father to tell himwhat happened and assured him he was none the worse for his terrifying ordeal.
"I was a little bit surprised but just relieved he was okay. It must have been a scary experience," said Andrew.