Shark attack survivor and veteran surfer Craig Ison says he will never go back into the water after a great white mauled him off the New South Wales far north coast.
The 51-year-old was bitten on the arm and the leg while surfing with a mate at Evans Head on July 31.“I was like mesmerised, hypnotised by this shark,” Mr Ison said.
“I’m thinking, like, I’m history, this is it, you know, I’m all over.”
“The shark was, like, giving me vibes to say, ‘don’t even try to escape mate, I’ve got you, you’re gone'”.
“I had my hand down next to my left leg and he just sheared half my hand off on his way through to hitting my leg.
“He has latched onto my left leg gnawed on my leg with my left hand smashed, blood pouring out everywhere.
“And his whole body’s shaking trying to get me off my board so he can get both jaws into me; he only has his top teeth into me the rest are in the surf board, and I am thinking, ‘oh, I am history'”.
But Mr Ison said the instinct to survive kicked in and he started to fight off the three-metre Great White.
“So, I’m like lining him up, lining up where his brain is, while he’s chewing my leg off,” he said.
“I just got up and went bang, bang, bang, bang; just hammered as hard as I could.
“After the fourth punch he just went ‘thunk’ put his mouth open and put it in reverse, let go.
“So I grabbed my board and paddled in, just seeing water and blood dripping off my hand.
“Luckily we weren’t very far out but … I felt so vulnerable like he could have come back and got me from behind – my legs – I would have been history, I would have had no defence then.”
The veteran surfer paddled to shore, where he collapsed.
“I had a feeling that something was going to happen, you know, something sooner or later,” he said.
“I go surfing every morning, early.”
Ison watched shark attack Mick Fanning
Nightmares plagued the first week of his month-long recovery in Gold Coast University Hospital.
And from his hospital bed Mr Ison relived the horror watching TV footage of world surfing champion, Mick Fanning escape a great white during a competition in South Africa.
“He was very lucky,’ Mr Ison said.
“I think the leg rope got caught in the shark’s mouth and sort of disrupted the shark.”
After what I’ve been through, there’s no way you would go back in the water.Craig Ison
A month after the attack, Mr Ison is due to be released from hospital over the weekend, but unlike Mick Fanning, he has no plans to return to surfing.
“After what I’ve been through, there’s no way you would go back in the water,” he said.
“It wouldn’t make sense.”
Mr Ison wants authorities in far northern NSW to install shark nets and drum lines to protect beach-goers.
“They do work, that’s for sure,” he said.
“That’s probably a good temporary measure until they come up with something better.”