Shark attack: Kayaker's 40 minutes from hell
FLOATING on his back above his sinking kayak about 5km off the coast, Gavin Kleidon feared the shark that'd just attacked his ocean ski was not finished.
He'd been paddling from Cleveland to Scarborough on Sunday afternoon on his 6.5m kayak when all of a sudden he found himself in Moreton Bay, the back end of his ski floating away after what he suspects was a bull shark bit through his ski.
"It wasn't the funnest afternoon," Mr Kleidon said.
The 39-year-old has battled 15-foot waves in Hawaii, but he said that ranked a "zero" on the fear scales compared to the 40 minutes he spent waiting to be rescued about five kilometres off Redcliffe on Sunday.
"I was scrambling to get back on my boat as quick as I could," Mr Kleidon recalled.
"My ski was sinking immediately so I got on the phone and called triple-0."
He also made a call to his wife, Hope Grunfeld, who has a shark tale of her own, having been "mouthed" by a shark on the Brisbane River a few years ago, but she escaped with only tooth marks in her outrigger canoe.
Mr Kleidon, who also paddles overseas, said the group he was with on Sunday had paddled in much worse conditions, although the water was a little murky after ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie, but he said the bay "wasn't bad" in terms of debris in the water.
The speed with which he was upended and his boat wrecked surprised Mr Kleidon, who has paddled for the past 10 years.
"I was paddling along minding my own business, it was all good and next thing, 'bam', I was in the water," the Maroochydore resident recalled.
"I'm a fairly accomplished paddler... it threw me off like nothing."
He said he saw "plenty of things" in the water in the next 40 minutes as he waited for the water police, and he'd been about to begin a blood-chilling swim to shore when help arrived.
"Being in the water with it being around was my biggest fear," Mr Kleidon said.
"Thank god they got there before that (he swam for shore)."
He said he was turning to wave to incoming aircraft as he lay on his back, trying to align with the kayak as best he could to limit how much of his body was overhanging in the water.
The electrician said he hadn't had any shark encounters paddling on the Sunshine Coast and he might "give it a miss" when it came to paddling south of the Coast for a while.
He praised the water police for their response and said he always carried his phone with him on a paddle for safety.
He pondered how far he could have drifted and how long it may have taken to pluck him from the ocean, had he not had his phone.
Mr Kleidon was thankful the shark bit the rear of his ski, instead of sinking its teeth into him.
"If you get a bite you're probably going to bleed out in that sort of time (30-40 minutes)," he said.
He said it had taken "a few deep breaths" and plenty of effort to calm down after his initial panic, but on reflection, after a few beers last night to settle his nerves, he was not interested in having the bite analysed to find out how big the shark was.
"It's happened and I'm not really fussed what type of shark it was," he said.
He suspected with the amount of freshwater feeding into the bay after the rain that his ski had been attacked by a bull shark feeding in the area.
Sunshine Coast marine educator Tony Isaacson said bull shark activity was heightened during flooding events, with the debris, fish and dead animals washed downstream by flooding creating a "county fair" of sorts for bull sharks.
He said the chocolatey-brown, murky waters increased risk to water users, as bull sharks would bump and bite to determine whether objects were edible.
Mr Isaacson said the risk disappeared when water visibility improved, saying a sight line of about 1-2m into the water was safer for humans.