Shark experts say surfer is alive because he fought back - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Shark experts say surfer is alive because he fought back

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Surfing fans watched in horror as professional wave rider Mick Fanning was attacked during the J-Bay Open in South Africa over the weekend.

The Australian was knocked off his board and pulled under.  Seconds later, he surfaced, unscathed after punching and kicking the shark.

Experts say that is the only thing you can do to survive an attack.

"Fight back and pray because when a big fish like that is in a feeding mood it's hard to push away," says Andrew Rossiter, the Curator of the Waikiki Aquarium.

"I couldn't sleep all night after I watched it," says Kaleo Roberson, a Maui surfer who was attacked by a tiger shark last year while he was holding his son in his arms.  He says Fanning's encounter was very similar.

"You just have to take action fast and for me it was just take my surfboard and start hitting it with my board.  For Mick (Fanning) it was punching it with his fist."

Experts say a shark will often bump you or the board before taking a bite and that can give you just enough time to collect yourself.

"Try and hit it in the eye which is a very sensitive area and also the area under the nose. That's very, very rich in open nerve endings," says Rossiter.

There are devices meant to repel sharks.  The only one Rossiter says works, is the Shield, which emits a low frequency electrical field using devices placed on your body.

Roberson's mom bought him one, but he doesn't want to use it because he says it looks uncomfortable.  The one made for surfing is like a leash with a device attached.

Roberson says he and his still surf but are more aware of what's in the distance and below.\

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