By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
TWO people, one a Scottish boy, are lucky to be alive after they escaped separate shark attacks – one in waters off New Providence and the other in Bimini – this month.
Bruce Rowan, of The Bahamas, was attacked in New Providence by a tiger shark last Saturday and was able to escape by pushing his surf board into the animal’s mouth and climbing onto a nearby reef.
Shane McConnell, 12, of Scotland, was bitten on the foot by a bull shark in Bimini earlier this month. Shane’s wound required 53 stitches.
In an interview with The Tribune yesterday, Mr Rowan said he was attacked while surfing in the waters near Nirvana Beach.
Mr Rowan has been a surfer for more than 20 years and also participates in other water activities, including free diving, spearfishing, and deep-sea fishing.
This was the first time he has ever been attacked by a shark.
The incident took place at 9.30am on April 14.
“I was just outside of Nirvana and I was sitting on a surfboard and the water was only about six, seven, maybe eight feet deep,” Mr Rowan said.
“And I was just sitting on the board minding my own business and this tiger shark…just came charging, straight up on my left side.
“At the last moment, I was able to line the board up with his mouth and stick the board right into his mouth and then he clamped down on the board.”
Mr Rowan said the shark began swimming away with the board. However, he was still attached to the board via a leash. Mr Rowan detached himself from the leash, and said the shark swam off with the board.
“And that’s the last I (saw) of both of them.”
Mr Rowan “scrambled” onto a reef, where he was stranded for an hour, waving and calling for help. Although he was less than a mile from the shore, he was wary of getting back in the water in case the shark was nearby.
Mr Rowan was eventually rescued by two men, who took him to the Lyford Cay Marina.
When asked if the incident has affected his desire to participate in water activities, Mr Rowan told The Tribune: “All I could say is, it takes 20 years to get you, hopefully it’ll take 20 years to get you again.”
Although Mr Rowan was unharmed in his encounter, 12-year-old Shane unfortunately was injured.
Shane was on vacation with his family earlier this month when his attack occurred.
His family were staying in Florida but visited Bimini where they spent the morning “jet skiing off a yacht.” Later that day, they were swimming at the Big Game Marina resort when Shane decided to return to the boat to get his “lucky cap”.
He was walking on the dock when he tripped and fell into the water and then suddenly a shark grabbed him by his feet.
“I put my hand over my eyes to block the sun out and accidentally tripped and fell into the sea,” Shane said from his home in Edinburgh, Scotland.
“Then I saw a shark’s body rise out of the water. I was splashing a lot, and I think it thought I was food being thrown in. I shouted for help when I saw it. But then it disappeared under me. I felt it brush my hand – I thought it had missed me.”
Shane pulled himself up by a ladder and was assisted by three security guards. He said he felt no pain.
Medics later said that if he had not been wearing shoes, he could have lost both feet and possibly bled to death.
Although his injuries required 53 stitches, Shane says this has not hampered his desire to become a marine biologist.
“Even after this, I am happiest when I’m in the ocean.”