By Miawling Lam
The Sunday Telegraph
December 28, 2008 12:00am
THEY'RE the ones who got away: a group of Sydney fishermen and kayakers survived a frightening encounter with a great white shark off Long Reef yesterday.
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Luckiest of all was 29-year-old Steve Kulcsar, who was knocked off his kayak by the 5m giant, which circled him for a minute as he trod water.
The close shave happened on the same day Perth man Brian Guest was taken by a white pointer of similar size while snorkelling on the other side of the country - and comes after a string of other alarming shark incidents.
'It goes with the territory': Brian's brave words about sharks
The Sydney incident was caught on videotape by Glenn Morgan, who was fishing with mates in a tinny nearby.
Mr Morgan's chilling footage shows the man-eater coming within touching distance of the group again and again.
The fishermen were the first to spot its huge fin heading towards Mr Kulcsar.
"A fisherman yelled out, 'There's a 5m shark coming your way.' We all thought he was just trying to stir us up for a laugh, but a few moments later, a big fin appeared," Mr Kulcsar said.
The next thing he knew, the white pointer bumped into his kayak, hurling him into the water.
Against all instincts, Mr Kulcsar managed to remain calm despite the shark lurking just metres away.
"I wasn't really worried about the shark, actually," he said.
"I knew it was there, but my first thought was to just get back in the kayak as quick as possible."
Mr Kulcsar said that after struggling in the water for a minute, he was able to climb back in his kayak. The fishermen then pulled him into their boat.
The self-employed painter said he believed a quick change in steering direction had prompted the shark to focus on him.
"When it cruised past me, I thought I was safe, so I went as quickly as I could in the opposite direction," he said.
"I think that was my mistake, because then it turned around and chased me.
"If I had stayed still, I think I would have been OK."
The other kayakers sought refuge by "rafting" their kayaks next to the boats as the shark menaced them.
After a harrowing 10 minutes, it lost interest and swam away.
Mr Morgan, who was road-testing his new video camera, said he thought it was a whale until it came closer. "You don't realise how big they are until they're beside you," he said.
Mr Morgan said he would return to Long Reef today in the hope of capturing more footage of the shark.
"They usually stay there for a few days once they've come in, because there's a lot of food around," he said.
Mr Kulcsar, from Penrith, celebrated his escape by having a few beers on the beach with his rescuers.
"I'm not really shaken up at all. At the time I was, but now I'm just having a few beers," he said with a laugh.
"I was so lucky. It had a chance to get me, but it didn't want to."
The incident occurred a few hours before Sydney-to-Hobart race favourite Wild Oats XI collided with a 2m shark off Tasmania's east coast.
Mr Kulcsar's experience recalls an incident last year when a white pointer shark knocked a woman from her surf ski near Byron Bay.
Linda Whitehurst fought off the predator with her paddle.
Shark packs spark panic along coast
By Angela Harper
December 28, 2008 07:31pm
MARAUDING three-metre sharks in waist-deep water have sparked panic and closed beaches on a southeast Queensland holiday island.
More than 30 broad-nosed sharks, thought to be aggressive bull sharks, sent swimmers scurrying from the water on North Stradbroke Island, off the coast of Brisbane.
A Surf Life Saving Queensland spokesman said the Westpac rescue helicopter reported multiple packs of sharks at numerous beaches and sounded alarms to evacuate swimmers, before chasing the sharks out to sea.
"Bull sharks hunt in packs and they were in packs," the spokesman said.
"They (the helicopter crew) said there were a lot of sharks, many more than they'd seen before with no bait fish around."
About 20 people were evacuated from the water, with 10 swimmers evacuated from Amity Point, where Sarah Kate Hiley, 21, was fatally mauled by a shark in January 2006.
The sharks were also spotted off Point Lookout and Main Beach.
Lifesavers have been on high alert since Western Australian man Brian Guest, 51, was believed to have been taken by a shark yesterday morning while snorkelling for crabs with his son, south of Perth.
The lifesaving service spokesman said there were also reports of shark sightings along the popular Gold Coast beaches, but none were confirmed by the helicopter.
He said sightings always increased when there were reports of shark attacks in the news.
"There were a few sightings earlier (today) which is usual when you hear the media talking sharks," he said.
"Days like today, when it's overcast, and the water is dark, it looks sharky (sic)."
There was no explanation for so many sharks to be hunting so close to the shore on Stradbroke Island, he said.
The peak period for sharks is during February and March when bait fish proliferate.
Full Video of Long Reef Great White