SHARK victim Colin Rowland must have thought he was staring down death when a grisly great white emerged from nowhere.
In paid interviews with the Seven and Nine networks, the 62-year-old retired real estate agent, who was attacked by the estimated four-metre long shark near Forster on Thursday, described how he just “fought and fought and fought” to get away from the “monstrous” beach beast.
“All of a sudden, dolphins were underneath me – about six – and then it happened,” Mr Rowland told Seven News.
“I just fought and fought and fought and then he came up face first, and that’s when I was kicking – just kicking, kicking, kicking.”
Mr Rowland said he was “catapulted” into the air before being repeatedly dragged under water.
In the tussle, the surfboard’s leg rope became entangled in the great white’s jaws.
“I’m a lucky man – joyous to be alive,” Mr Rowland told Nine News.
“When he hit, I was protected by the board either side of me.”
The board snapped in two, with the retiree lucky to walk away with a sliced right foot and a punctured right arm.
Mr Rowland was brought to shore by Tuncurry local Billy Eitz.
“Whoever he is, he’s a legend, he’s a hero for putting me on his board and bringing me to shore,” Mr Rowland said of his rescuer.
“I was bleeding quite profusely, so it was a brave thing to do.”
Mr Eitz admitted to Channel 7 of being “terrified” but said he couldn’t bear to watch a stranger potentially die. “It was terrifying but, to be honest, I think it would have been a bit cowardly if I just paddled straight past him, and went straight to the beach to watch someone die,” Mr Eitz said.
The harrowing tale of survival immediately prompted the state government – which recently came under criticism for its responses to shark attacks – to install a row of “smart” drum lines off Booti Booti National Park to catch the offending shark and relocate it.
A drone flight above Boomerang Beach spotted a two-metre great white moving north just after 10am on Friday.
Also in response to the attack, Hunter beachgoers were aware of what could be lurking off the coast when Bar Beach, Dixon Beach and Merewether Beach were closed on Thursday soon after the sighting.
Mr Rowland, who sticks to a vegan diet, was understood to be upset by the response to the attack, and does not support a shark cull.
He vowed to get back in the water after his recovery.
Based on the bite marks on the board, Department of Primary Industries shark specialists estimated the shark to be at least four metres long.