Paul Marshallsea, 62, was praised for bravery by Australian authorities after he rushed from his beach-side barbecue to the rescue of young children in danger when a shark appeared in shallow waters in which they were paddling.
According to The Guardian
, Marshallsea was at the beach with his wife Wendy, 56, daughter, Rachel, 21, and Aussie friends at Bulcock Beach on Queensland's Sunshine Coast when he heard shouts of "shark!" and a siren warning.
He abandoned the barbecue and rushed to the beach's shoreline where he found a six-foot Dusky Whaler shark thrashing in shallow water. The brave granddad, native of Merthyr Tydfil South Wales, without thought for his own safety, grabbed the shark by the tail and dragged it to deeper water. He only narrowly escaped being bitten when the shark lunged suddenly at his legs with gnashing teeth.
reports that as the sharked thrashed in the water, Marshallsea lost his grip on the tail land fell into the waves. That was when the shark lunged at him and snapped it jaws close to his legs.
Marshallsea said: "It just missed me with a bite, which was a fraction away from my leg. A shark that one minute ago was so docile now just nearly took my leg off."
After a brief struggle, he dragged the Dusky Whaler to deeper water, now assisted by two younger men.
reports he said: "It’s shallow for about six yards where the shark was and a lot of babies and toddlers splash about there. It could have been very nasty. My instincts took over and I grabbed the shark by the tail. When I dragged the shark to just over a knee deep he turned on me and just missed me with a bite. It nearly took my leg off in a split second. It was that quick."
Marshallsea acknowledged that he was lucky to escape the encounter without injury. He added that he acted to save the playing children as well as the shark. He said: "I know it was dangerous but it almost looked beautiful – you have got to have respect for a beautiful animal. People might say it was a stupid thing to do, but when you see a beautiful beast struggling to survive up close and personal you somehow tend to respect it and want to help it."
He continued: "We got hold of his tail and pulled with all our might to get the shark into deep enough water so the poor thing could survive.While I was pulling the shark her 2ft babies were swimming through my legs. They must have got lost and marooned by the shallow sand banks and got beached."
reports that an Australian lifeguard Luke Turner, who witnessed the incident, said he and his colleague had been looking out for the shark all morning before it appeared in the bathing area. He said: "We chased it away and called in the helicopter for back-up. Then a few hours passed and it happened to come back in. A British tourist jumped into the water as well as a wildlife rescue guy, and they pulled it back out to sea. Me and my partner proceeded to follow it back out through the channel while it swam back out to sea."
An Australian coastguard spokesman said: "We don't recommend manhandling sharks but this gentleman did a great job."
The incident was caught on camera by an Australian TV crew that happened to be filming at the beach.
The Daily Mail
reports that Dusky Whalers are found in warm tropical waters all over the world and can grow to more than four meters long.
They are an endangered species popular in specialty fish restaurants all over the world. Officials say the shark may have strayed into shallow water due to sickness.
Dusky Whales are considered dangerous but they only rarely attack humans.