Durban - A Durban North man who went fishing from a paddleski at Westbrook Beach, north of Durban, on Saturday is thankful to be alive after he encountered a Great White shark.
Despite being toppled from his paddleski by the force of the attack, Grant Wardell miraculously survived unharmed.
He and his brother Jamie went fishing early on Saturday morning, using live bait.
The two are passionate about fishing and go out on the water three or four times a week. They were about 1.2km from the shore when the drama unfolded.
Wardell, who was ahead of his brother, looked back to check on his progress. When he turned back to look at the sea ahead of him, he saw a 3m-long shark bearing down on him.
“The shark leaped from the water and the force catapulted me off my paddle ski.
“In that instant I went from enjoying a leisurely excursion, to floundering in the sea, terrified and vulnerable, while a deadly creature approached me from below the deep water.
“I was terrified but all I could think about was getting back on to my boat as quickly as I could,” said Wardell.
Jamie, who witnessed the incident, frantically paddled to him and helped Wardell haul himself back on to the paddleski before the shark could attack again.
“Thank God that my brother got to me in time. He helped me on to the boat. We retrieved my paddles and made our way back to shore.
“As we were heading back, we saw the shark swim towards us again, but then it seemed to think better of it, and headed for the open sea, he said, his relief still palpable.
“When I looked behind us again, I could see it swimming around but it didn’t seem like it was coming towards us anymore,” Wardell said.
“When everything was happening, despite being in a state of panic, all I wanted was to get my brother back on his boat safely. We are glad to have survived to tell this incredible story,” Jamie said.
While Wardell managed to escape being bitten, the shark left long, jagged lacerations on his boat that will remind him of the incident forever.
It even left a tooth embedded in the paddleski , which he says he is glad to have as a momento.
Wardell said that ironically, while enjoying lunch with his family on Christmas Day, he had had a conversation with them about being attacked by a shark.
“We were just talking about fishing and shark attacks over lunch and I said to my family that there was a bigger chance of me being killed in a car crash than ever being attacked by a shark. And look what happened to me the day after,” he laughed.
Wardell said that his pregnant wife Tracy Wardell has demanded that he sell his paddle ski.
But despite his terrifying encounter, he would return to the water, if (and it’s a big if) his wife changed her mind and gave him the nod.