Man circled by a hammerhead shark at South West Rocks

Encounter: Terry Wells points out the spot at Trial Bay beach where he was circled by a three-metre hammerhead shark. Photo: Callum McGregor.
Encounter: Terry Wells points out the spot at Trial Bay beach where he was circled by a three-metre hammerhead shark. Photo: Callum McGregor.

A MAN man has had a close encounter of the shark variety at South West Rocks.

Terry Wells from Taree was stand-up paddle boarding at Trial Bay beach around 11am on Wednesday December 21, when he noticed a small fin moving in the water.

“There was a lot of swimmers in close to the corner,” he said.

“I was back in after a surf and I saw a small fin cruising out from me.”

He recognised it as a shark fin but instead of turning back to shore, he did the opposite.

“It was going towards the rocks so I started to follow it to see what type of shark it was.

“It got closer to the sand bank and I saw it come higher and the dorsal fin doubled in size.”

The shark then moved towards Terry, who was on his stand-up paddle board.

“He circled me three times and was getting closer each time. The last time he was probably 10 feet away from me.”

As Terry looked at the shark he determined it was a three metre long hammerhead. 

“At first I thought it was really good just looking at him but the closer he got with each circle I started to wonder what was going to happen.”

Terry smacked his paddle on the water and the shark reacted by darting towards it, before changing his path.

“He turned back to go towards the swimmers and then he started to turn around and head back to sea.”

Terry said that is when a spotting helicopter came down about 40 feet above the water, staying there until they made sure the shark had left the area.

“I don’t think anyone on the beach would have known the shark was there. He was about 40 foot out from the rocks where the camp sites are. People had no idea the helicopter was buzzing a shark away.”

The encounter hasn’t stopped the long-time surfer from going back into the water. 

Terry has been holidaying at South West Rocks for the past few weeks and is surfing regularly.