Surfer's shark encounter: "I grabbed the bloody thing"
A SURFER has recounted a freakish encounter with a bull shark at Lennox Point on Anzac Day morning.
Matthew Lee said he was surfing at Lennox just before 7am yesterday when the unbelievable incident unfolded.
"The tide was very high at the time and all the surfers were catching waves right next to the rocks," Mr Lee said.
"It was a really really high tide, there wasn't a big swell, and I was about half way down the point... in pretty close.
Mr Lee said he had just pulled off a wave and had paddled a few strokes back out through the white water when something nudged him. A split second later he said he was face to face with a shark.
"I actually don't know if it attacked me or not. It kind of came right up next to me and nudged me.
"It could have been just trying to see what I was.
He said his instinctive thought was "it's probably better if I know where it is" so "I grabbed the bloody thing".
"Thinking about it now it seems the stupidest thing to grab it, but at the time I thought if I grab it, I know exactly where its mouth is," he said.
Mr Lee said as he grabbed it a wave knocked both the shark and him on to the boulders.
He said the shark appeared stunned for a moment, and after it regained its senses a few seconds later the water had receded.
It then started thrashing furiously, bloodying itself in its life and death panic.
Mr Lee stayed well clear of the shark and within minutes it had apparently died.
He said no one saw the incident as there were only about four others in the water at the time and they were further out.
Despite the photo, which was taken later by another surfer and his son, Mr Lee said his friends refused to believe his tale.
"Maybe I should have done a Mick Fanning and just punched it in the face," he said.
"No one would believe that if it wasn't caught on video."
He said he spent about 30 minutes sitting on the boulders trying to process what happened when he decided to go back in for a few more waves.
But he said the experience did make him think twice.
"It's pretty sketchy out there, there is a lot of baitfish," he said.
"I didn't go surfing today, I went fishing instead."
Dense schools of baitfish running down the coast have lured tens of sharks close to shore this week.
Multiple sightings yesterday saw the closure of all beaches between Brunswick Heads and Fingal, while Wategos at Byron Bay was closed earlier today following the sighting of 17 sharks.
Bull sharks and blacktip sharks were also spotted from South Ballina to Seven Mile Beach today, as the baitifsh move south.
Mr Lee noted he is unrelated to the Mat Lee who was attacked in 2015 at Ballina's North Wall.