Fisherman says great white shark jumping in his boat was ‘just a mundane thing’

Terry Selwood was hurt when 2.7-metre shark, which weighed 200kg, leapt into his boat near Evans Head

A fisherman who watched a 2.7-metre great white shark land in his boat has downplayed the experience, calling it “just a mundane thing”.

Terry Selwood, 73, was caught by surprise while fishing off Evans Head, on the north coast of New South Wales, on Saturday afternoon when the shark launched itself into his 4.5-metre boat.

The shark’s pectoral fin hit Selwood on his forearm and knocked him on to his hands and knees as it scaled the boat’s engine and landed on the floor.

“There I was on all fours and he’s looking at me and I’m looking at him and then he started to do the dance around and shake and I couldn’t get out quick enough on to the gunwale,” Selwood told the ABC. “I was losing a fair amount of blood, I was stunned. I couldn’t register what happened and then I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to get out of here.’”

Selwood alerted marine rescue volunteers at Evans Head. A crew picked him up before returning to retrieve the boat, still with the 200kg shark on board.

Conditions were calm on Saturday afternoon and there was no obvious reason the shark had breached, said Selwood, who had been fishing for snapper.

“For some unknown reason he just launched himself out of the water and he must have come up four feet out of the water to clear my outboard motor and drop straight in the boat.”

NSW police said they had been called to the scene about 4.45pm after reports of a shark attack. Selwood was treated on shore for the minor injury to his arm caused by the shark’s fin, and later conveyed to Lismore hospital by ambulance paramedics.

The Department of Primary Industries removed the shark from the boat with a forklift and took it to its Wollongbar office to confirm its age and gender.

A spokeswoman confirmed it was a 2.7-metre white shark and that a postmortem was standard procedure for “any deceased shark in good condition”, enabling the department to take tissue and blood samples for science and research purposes.

Selwood said he had never had a similar experience in nearly 60 years of fishing.

“I’ve had ’em come up and brush the side of my boat, I’ve had a white pointer swim around my boat, I’ve had ’em take fish off my line but I’ve never had one do this,” he told the ABC.

It would not deter him from fishing, he said, though he would have to repair the damage to his boat.

“It’s not a great story, it’s just a mundane thing that just happened and it’s over and done with, but something that I’ll remember.”

Also on Monday, the state government announced that controversial shark nets being trialled at Evans Head and four other beaches in northern NSW were being removed ahead of schedule in an attempt to protect migrating whales

Nets at Ballina’s Lighthouse, Sharpes and Shelly beaches, Lennox Head’s Seven Mile beach and Evans Head beach would be removed two weeks before the slated end of the six-month trial, said the NSW primary industries minister, Niall Blair.

The decision was due to an increase in sightings as whales headed north for the winter, Blair said on Monday. Helicopters would continue to operate every weekend on the north coast and daily flights and drones would resume in the July school holidays.

Almost three times as many marine animals died in the north coast nets during the second month of the trial as in the first month.

“While we are ending the trial slightly earlier, we now have almost six months’ worth of data for our shark scientists to analyse,” Blair said. “The research from this trial is world-class and will provide great insight to researchers not only in NSW but right across the world.”

Just one of the 72 animals caught in the newly installed nets off Ballina – a great white shark – was among the NSW government’s targeted species in the most recent trial period. A bottlenose dolphin, six manta rays and two turtles were also killed, along with nine hammerhead sharks.

The department recorded 32 animal deaths between 8 January and 7 February, compared with 12 deaths a month earlier. Of the 153 animals caught in the first two months of the six-month trial, five were target shark species – a strike rate of 4.3%.

Blair said the government would make a decision on the future of the nets in spring, after consultation with the public, scientists and the commonwealth.

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