Nick Carroll On: The Mid North Coast Crew Were Waiting For This

1 Dec 2016 45

Nick Carroll

Senior Writer

Col's board ended up like this, this morning.

Col's board ended up like this, this morning.

COASTALWATCH | LATEST NEWS

“HE WOULDN’T HURT A FLY”

The mid north coast crew were just waiting for this

“It’s no surprise,” says Ben Godwin. “It’s a shock, but no surprise. Everyone’s been waiting to hear news like this.”

Ben’s been surfing the Forster-Tuncurry area pretty much all his life. Col Rowland, who is currently resting up in John Hunter Hospital after being attacked by a great white shark at Bulls Paddock this morning, is a close Godwin family friend.

Ben says you wouldn’t find a less likely candidate for an attack. “Col’s such a spiritual and humble down-to-earth guy — he wouldn’t hurt a fly,” he told us this afternoon. “So there’s no Karma involved.”

SEE ALSO: Top 3 Tips To Bottom Turn Like Kelly Slater

Yet this was an attack, not an “encounter”. The shark hit Col’s board from beneath in a full breach, then came back and dragged him under by the foot. Somehow, Col’s board got in the way; you can see the evidence of what happened to it. “Apparently the shark couldn’t close its mouth because of the board being in there,” says Ben, who’d talked to Col’s son soon afterward. “He’s unlucky and lucky at the same time.”

The news will be a focal point for local surfers and fishermen, who’ve seen increased large shark activity in the area for some time, in sync with what’s been occurring four hours’ drive north. “The vibe in Ballina is felt down here…while the sharks were being sighted up there, they were here too,” says Ben. “There’s been plenty of sightings — everyone’s pretty vigilant.”

Like numerous long-time surfers CW has spoken with in recent times, he thinks there must be a connection between an increased shark presence and the resurgent whale migration — whales are still visibly moving south past the Forster area, where like Ballina, the continental shelf approaches the coast.

SEE ALSO: Weekend Surf Forecast 2 - 4 December, 2016

Ben also notes the return of fur seals to Seal Rocks — something that’s been missing since the early 1970s, when local fishermen killed them to prevent them raiding fish traps. “Seals at Seal Rocks! We’ve even had one sitting in the rock pool at Tuncurry. It had wounds on it, it was obviously having a rest.

“Plus word of mouth is that there’s no lack of fish around here.”

Including the large cartilaginous variety, it seems. Of which Ben adds half-jokingly, “I dunno if we’re all just afraid of them and attracting them through our fear.”

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