HE initially felt disappointed at how flat the ocean was, but on reflection Adam Porter felt lucky he came away in one piece.
The photo opposite shows a large fin just a few metres from where he was trying to surf in an isolated spot at Dudley Point on Thursday.
Mr Porter said he wasn’t too worried at the time, thinking it was a porpoise or dolphin. But when an actual pod of porpoises came and swam nearby, he noticed that this one fin looked different from the rest ... and was moving differently.
‘‘And that’s when I had an uneasy feeling in the water,’’ he said.
It wasn’t until he went back to shore 15 minutes later and spoke to his friend Sam Sherwood – who took the photos – that he learned it was more likely a tiger shark.
Mr Sherwood, worried about what he was seeing, had spoken to some spear fishermen who had been snorkelling nearby. They told him they had got out because they had seen a tiger shark in the murky water.
“I didn’t really appreciate what was going on at the time,” Mr Porter said. “There was the one fin first up, so I thought it was a porpoise.
“Then these real porpoises came along. I feel pretty lucky like they protected me. The shark came about three metres away from me. I got pretty close to the porpoises – about a metre and a half.
‘‘... In hindsight, I’m pretty glad it all worked out how it did.’’
It was the first time in five years Mr Porter had ventured down to Newcastle, his home city, as he is working at Mackay, Queensland.
He said that when he was younger he got a tattoo of a dolphin fighting a shark to represent the football grand finals he’d played in – one for the sharks and one for the dolphins.
“Now I’ve got a story of how it’s really happened,” Mr Porter said.
Mr Sherwood, originally from Redhead, said he had posted the photos he had taken on Facebook and they had shocked a lot of people.
Some friends wondered if it was a dolphin, others were sure it wasn’t.
He said it was ‘‘pretty phenomenal’’ and rather scary to watch what was unfolding. “I saw it come up to him pretty close and I was getting ready to ring someone as I was sitting there watching it,” he said. “Then all these dolphins came by. Well, I say dolphins but Adam called them porpoises.’’
Both men had never experienced such a close encounter with what they are now convinced is a shark in all the time they had been surfing.