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Surfer Attacked by Shark ‘Did Everything Right’

Mick Fanning eluded a great white shark during a competition in South Africa.

Close call: Surfer Mick Fanning fought off a shark attack on July 19 during a competition in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.
















During a summer of high-profile shark attacks, experts have weighed in on the best ways to avoid and survive the rare but harrowing incidents. Now, dramatic TV footage that has been broadcast around the world shows a pro surfer doing things just right.


The surfer successfully evaded a shark attack during a competition run off South Africa’s East Cape on Sunday.

As Australian surfer Mick Fanning prepared to ride a wave at the World Surf League’s J-Bay Open Sunday in Jeffreys Bay, a big shark “appears out of nowhere,” says Greg Skomal, a shark scientist with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.

“The shark seemed pretty intent on hitting the board, which probably worked in the surfer's favor,” says Skomal. “He got away, unharmed, which is pretty incredible.”

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Fanning also appeared to stay calm and “did everything right” during the brief attack, says Skomal. “It looked like he put the board between him and the shark, he avoided the mouth, he struck the shark, and then moved away.”

Within moments Fanning was picked up by rescuers on jetskis.

Sharks are known to respect size and power in the water, and experts say the best thing to do if you are approached by one is punch it hard. Aim for the nose, the eyes, or the gills, which are particularly sensitive, if possible. Fanning hit the animal in the back, which also seemed to do the trick. (Get more tips on how to avoid shark attacks.)


Watch video of Fanning's encounter with a shark on Sunday. Warning: contains strong language.


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