South Africa shark attack hits close to home for local surfers

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KTVU) - It was a terrifying attack, witnessed by thousands on live television. Three-time world champion surfer Mick Fanning, fended off a shark while competing in South Africa.

Although the attack was thousands of miles away, it home for surfers in Santa Cruz.

"He got extremely lucky. He could have had his leg gone, he could have bled out. It was cool that it was caught on camera and we all got to see it," says surfer Mike Frederick.

Surfers here are no stranger to sharks either. Fifteen were spotted at a beach near Aptos earlier this month.

Giancarlo Thomae, a biologist and photographer, was able to get video of one traveling right beneath his kayak.

Shana Bartlett's family was there that day.

"When you have five children you can't help but think you're putting your kids out there. And especially in Santa Cruz lately we've had quite a few shark sightings," Bartlett says.

Bartlett says the Fanning video confirmed her worst fear. Still she says her husband convinced her to get back in the water.

"I said can we rethink the surfing thing? And he's like you can't live in fear," she says.

It's something competitive surfer Juliet Nazareth knows all too well. Formerly ranked 5th in the world in women's longboard, she's met them up close and personal.

"I've seen sharks when I've been out surfing. And when I was little, 10 years old I had a shark bite the nose of my surfboard," says Nazareth.

She says the key is to use good judgement and steer clear when you can.

"Just try and be calm and still and collected," she says.

"This is their home not ours. So we've got to respect them," adds surfer Vinny Patti.