— -- Australian surfer Mick Fanning says he feels “lucky” after spotting a shark in the water on what was supposed to be his triumphant return to surfing after he survived a shark attack that played out on live TV.
Fanning, 34, said today on “Good Morning America” that he was “already on edge” when he went to Hastings Point on the Tweed Coast off Australia with a crew from the Australian TV news program “60 Minutes” less than one week after his July 19 shark attack during a surfing competition.
As Fanning, a three-time World Surfing League Champion, and his friend were driving a Jet Ski off the coast to catch a wave, Fanning says he saw a shark fin.
“I was lucky that I was just on the back of the Jet Ski and I was actually looking at another wave to catch,” Fanning said today on “GMA.” “I was okay. I went in and regrouped.”
While the "60 Minutes" encounter was taped and aired Sunday night, Fanning’s first encounter with a shark played out while cameras rolled live. While competing in the J-Bay Open surfing competition in South Africa, Fanning was approached by a shark and had to defend himself by punching and kicking the shark until safety boats arrived.
Fanning, who was uninjured in the attack, says it took him a few days to “come back down to earth” after the attack.
“There was definitely nightmares and stuff like that but everything is starting to move forward now and just cruising on as if I was getting ready for a new event,” he said.
Part of that moving forward process for Fanning included jumping back into the water with the “60 Minutes” crew, which he said he did on purpose.
“I just didn’t want to leave it too long,” he said of the ocean waters key to his career. “I felt like if I left it too long I would start playing tricks with myself and having too many mind games go on so I just really wanted to get it done pretty quickly.”
The “60 Minutes” reporter, Peter Stefanovic, who was with Fanning during the second shark sighting told News.com.au that he did not see the shark himself. The news station reports that two more shark sightings were reported in the same area one hour after Fanning’s sighting.
Stefanovic was on the shore watching Fanning with the surfer’s mom, Elizabeth Osborne, who watched her son's first shark encounter play out on TV and told reporters after that she was “terrified” and went to the TV as though she "could pull him out of the television."
“With mom, you sort of just smile and laugh a little bit and make sure that’s she okay and then just run away before she can grab you again and hold you in,” Fanning told “GMA.”
“Obviously between her and my wife we’ve definitely had some talks about when to go out and when not to go out,” he added.
Fanning says he is now back in the gym training and looking forward to his next surfing competition, the Billabong Pro Tahiti, a World Surfing League competition that kicks off August 14.
“Everything is starting to feel like it’s moving in the right direction and i just hope we get some really good waves over there,” Fanning said. “It’d be great just to get back into the water, get back into an event and just concentrate on surfing again.”