New photos of WA surfer’s close encounter with great white shark at Esperance

Surfer’s close encounter with great white shark TweetFacebookMore than a month after an Esperance surfer had a close encounter with a great white shark, stunning photos have emerged of the incident.

Andy Johnston was surfing at West Beach on the morning of Sunday September 21, when car horns sounded from the car park alerting surfers to the presence of the shark.

At the time Mr Johnston told Jesse McCarthy-Price of the Esperance Express he made a snap decision to stay in the water despite the potential danger.

And Mr Johnston was sticking to that line on Friday, despite Bunbury man Sean Pollard being savaged by a shark at Kelp Beds Beach near Esperance less than two weeks after the incident.

“When your number is up, your number is up. I actually said that to someone before I went out in the water that day,” Mr Johnston told Fairfax Media on Friday.

“For sure I’d do the same thing again. You can’t run away from them [sharks]. I just thought about what some divers had told me over the years and kept calm and didn’t move.

“I saw some Go Pro footage about a week after it happened. But I didn’t see these photos until last night. It wasn’t until I saw the photos that I saw how big the shark was – it was in my blind spot when I was in the water, so I couldn’t really tell.”

The photos were taken by Frits de Bruyn, whom Mr Johnston has not met and believes to have been a Tasmanian tourist holidaying in Esperance.

“McCarthy-Price, who was at the beach at the time of the encounter, said it was an eerie scene and the photos accurately portrayed the mood at the beach.

“There were so many people there, it was just really eery,” McCarthy-Price recalled on Friday.

Mr Johnston, 38, said the subsequent attack on Mr Pollard had not given him cause to second-guess his regular surfing activities.

“It all comes down to luck. I was lucky and Sean was unlucky,” Mr Pollard said.

“From what I’ve heard he was paddling at the time and that could have agitated the shark.”

Story by Simon White, WA Today

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