A FLORAVILLE man has told of his terror after seeing a hammerhead shark coasting towards his daughter and her friend while they swam in the shorebreak at Redhead Beach.
Steve Hoadley was watching his 15-year-old daughter, Taylor, and her friend swim in the shore break at Redhead Beach when the dark shadow caught his eye.
When he identified the shadow as a four-metre hammerhead, he found himself in his own Jaws moment – sprinting down the beach, towards the girls and yelling at them to get out.
The shark was up to four metres long, was picking up speed while surfing a wave and heading straight for Taylor and her friend, Laura Blanch, also 15.
Unaware of their impending danger, the girls happened to catch the wave in front of the predator and missed it by a few metres.
‘‘The first time I have felt completely helpless in my my life, I couldn’t do anything,’’ Mr Hoadley said yesterday.
The shark turned and swam away.
The man caught the close encounter on his smartphone, a series of photographs showing the girls enjoying the water before the shark is seen in the waves less than five metres away.
It occurred on January 5, the same day that Mr Hoadley’s good mate and shark attack survivor Glen ‘‘Lenny’’ Folkard was featured on the front page of the Newcastle Herald speaking about the year since a bull shark bit him at Redhead Beach.
Mr Folkard was attacked near the clubhouse – the girls were further down the beach, only about 30 metres south of the mouth of Third Creek.
‘‘The first I saw it, it was heading south towards Blacksmiths,’’ Mr Hoadley said.
‘‘But within a blink of an eye, it did a U-bolt, jumped on the wave and just sped up the beach.
‘‘I was running down the beach and yelling at them but they couldn’t hear me.
‘‘If they don’t jump on that wave, they go face-to-face with it, there are no two-ways about it.’’
Mr Hoadley, who is a frequent visitor to the beach and had been there with his daughter for six days before the encounter, said the fact that it was a hammerhead and so close to the shore surprised him.
He said he had seen only one other shark along the beach in all the years he had surfed and swum there.
‘‘It was just so close, I could have dived in and landed on it – it wouldn’t have been four metres from shore,’’ he said.
Sydney Aquarium shark expert David Watts said he believed the shark was most likely a hammerhead, but possibly a great white.
‘‘The light colour could indicate a great white shark which we know come close to shore, and the large dorsal fin is typical of hammerheads which are also found in the area at this time of year,’’ Mr Watts said.
Surfwatch Australia director Michael Brown, who conducts aerial patrols between Sydney and Newcastle said he believed the photo showed a great white or mako shark.
A Department of Primary Industries spokesman said the department’s shark experts believed the fin could be a pectoral fin from the shark’s underside.
If this was the case, it would be a very large shark, the spokesman said.
According to the International Shark Attack File, there have been 21 unprovoked attacks by hammerheads on humans, with two recorded deaths.