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Surfer's shark-slap in terrifying Coast beach encounter

Tim Ollier frantically paddling to shore after a brush with a bull shark, which he believed might be the shadow (circled) in this photograph.
Tim Ollier frantically paddling to shore after a brush with a bull shark, which he believed might be the shadow (circled) in this photograph. Kathy Sundstrom

TIM Ollier has no doubt the creature that came out of the water near his hand at Kings Beach on Tuesday evening was a "medium-sized bull shark”.

Tim has been surfing for 16 years, he knows his sharks and he knows never to cry "shark” unless it is a genuine incident.

"I noticed something out of the corner of my eye and then it went 'bang', it was about 15cm from my right hand,” Tim said.

He quickly did a "Mick Fanning punch”, but it ended up more like a "slap in the water”.

Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark on Sunday during the JBay Open but escaped without injuries. Photo Contributed/World Surf League via AP
Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark on Sunday during the JBay Open but escaped without injuries. Photo Contributed/World Surf League via AP Contributed

Mick Fanning punched a Great White shark in the face which came for him while surfing at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa in July 2015.

Tim wasn't sure if he hit the shark, all he cared about was getting to shore.

"I don't think I hit it, I panicked and paddled that fast in,” he said.

"The whole time I thought it might bite my feet.”

The Surf Shack in Caloundra took a photograph of Tim's frantic swim to shore.

In it, Tim believes he can possible see the "shadow” of the bull shark in the waters behind him.

"There is a really dark shape in the top right corner of the wave. I don't know if it is seaweed or a shadow, but when I saw it... Oh my God, that gives it perspective.”

Tim knew he was breaking all the water safety rules when he went out surfing at dusk on Tuesday.

And to make it worse, the waters were still "murky from Cyclone Debbie” and he was surfing near a "big bait wall of salmon”.

"Being that close to the Caloundra passage, it's notorious for bull sharks,” Tim said.

He was also "the only surfer out there”.

But in typical surfer fashion, he never thought a bull shark would "get that close”.

Four bull sharks were tagged and released in the Richmond River at Ballina on Thursday 23 February 2017.
Four bull sharks were tagged and released in the Richmond River at Ballina on Thursday 23 February 2017. Supplied

Tim was lucky enough to catch a wave in.

"I was hyperventilating on my board and I saw some guy going out. I yelled at him 'don't do it'.”

Tim's family was watching from the beach as he paddled in.

"My girlfriend was there, she had tears in her eyes, she saw me slapping the water and swimming in,” he said.

"I've been surfing for 16 years, but I've never had something like that happen before.”

You might think the close encounter with a bull shark would have turned Tim off from surfing at dusk again, but the very next day he was back out there again.

"I went back on Wednesday, straight back out,” Tim said.

"But I went out at Dicky's (Dicky Beach) this time, for safety.

"I know you definitely shouldn't (swim at dusk and in murky waters), but we all do it.”


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