Surfers’ great white scare in WA

A group of top surfers has had another close encounter with a shark, less than a year after Mick Fanning’s dramatic incident in South Africa.


American Kanoa Igarashi has told of the frightening near-miss at Margaret River in Western Australia, the evening before the start of the third event on the world tour.

Igarashi said he and a handful of other professionals were surfing Margaret River’s famed Mainbreak at sunset when the estimated 4.5m-long great white appeared.

“We were in the water about 10 minutes before dark, which was a really bad idea,” Igarashi told Stab Magazine.

“We went over a wave and me and Caio (Ibelli) are looking out and see this fin emerging out of the water – it looked like a submarine – it kept growing,” Igarashi told Stab Magazine.

“Then it was flustering and thrashing, making so much water and then it just shot down and I looked over at Caio and he had the most scared face I’ve ever seen. No one said a word.”

Igarashi said the true size of the shark dawned on him when what he thought was a second marine creature several feet away from the main fin turned out to be its tail.

“I looked over and I’m like ‘wow there’s a dolphin next to the shark’, but it was actually the tail fin. It was seven or eight feet away from the main fin,” he said.

“We turned around and bolted in.”

Last July, Fanning’s J-Bay Open final against fellow Australian Julian Wilson was called off because of their incident.

Fanning had to fight off the shark and Wilson paddled over to help.

The scare is one reason Fanning is not surfing at the Margaret River Pro.

Thursday’s near-miss prompted the World Surf League to outline the shark safety measures in place at Margaret River.

Each competitor has an allocated jetski driver, plus there is a safety boat for equipment caddies and watercraft for all event photographers.

The event is also trialling a new prototype for underwater surveillance.