Mick Fanning says surviving a shark attack in South Africa without any form of injury was a “miracle”.
The incident, which occurred late on Sunday evening (AEST) while Fanning was competing at the J-Bay Open event in South Africa and was on live television, shocked the world.
Scary footage showed Fanning desperately fighting as the shark, which attacked from behind, launched an ambush, before the 34-year-old from the Gold Coast escaped to safety.
He returned to Australia on Tuesday with Julian Wilson, who was competing against Fanning in the South African final.
Wilson, who frantically swam towards the shark in a bid to save his countryman before a jet-ski and rescue boat took them out of the water, flanked Fanning at a press conference upon their return.
Watch the press conference below
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“To walk away from a shark attack with not a scratch on you – it’s a miracle, really,” he said.
“You just count your lucky stars and if there is someone looking after me – just, thanks.
“I felt so insignificant [during the attack]. The thing was so powerful and it just moved so fast. I was just waiting for it to take a leg or two.
“I don’t know if I punched it hard or it was little baby punches, but I just sort of went into fight or flight.”
Fanning said he was likely to return to surfing but was unclear on a timeframe.
“I’m sure I’ll go surfing,” he said.
“Surfing has given me so much. It’s something I do to clear the mind. It gives me peace. I’m sure I’ll go back out.
“To turn my back on surfing just wouldn’t feel right.
“[But for now], my plan is just to get home.”
Fanning described Wilson as a “superhero” and praised his bravery in the incident.
“I was screaming and telling ‘Jules’ to get in [to the beach] but the ‘Warrior’ coming after me…you never know what you are going to do in that situation but it just showed his true integrity,” he added.
“[He] put himself in harm’s way to look after [me].”
Wilson said it was “horrific” to witness but that he was so pleased Fanning survived.
“Mick was looking at me [and a] big old fish popped up behind him, that was a lot bigger than him,” he said.
“I froze. I honestly froze. I saw him starting to sort of get manhandled by the shark. I just started paddling for him, praying for his life.
“The shark bit through his leg rope, the board was 20 metres away from him and I went into straight panic mode. I thought he was a sitting duck.
“It was twice the size of Mick. I was waiting for him to get manhandled from beneath.
“I was thinking, by the time I got there, I’d be swimming down to find him. It was such a horrific feeling.
“I just wanted to get my board to Mick, and if he was wrestling or whatever…if I could get there with my board, I’d have a weapon and have some sort of something that could help.
“I didn’t know until he got on the boat that all limbs were intact. It was some sort of miracle, for sure.”
Wilson up for bravery award
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk will recommend Julian Wilson for a bravery award.
— AnnastaciaPalaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) July 21, 2015