Maroons legend’s terrifying shark scare
QUEENSLAND Origin great Billy Moore has spoken of his "terrifying" shark scare after being caught in the vicinity of an eight-foot bull shark that had him conjuring images from the movie Jaws.
Moore has vowed never to swim in the ocean again after recounting how a leisurely Sunday morning swim turned into a frightening dash for safety following a shark sighting in Sunshine Coast waters.
Moore is a rugby league legend renowned for famously chanting "Queenslander" during his illustrious 17-game State of Origin career for the Maroons during the 1990s.
But nothing he experienced in the State of Origin arena triggered the adrenaline surge he felt a fortnight ago when the first shark alarm to be raised at Alexandra Headland in a decade had Moore scrambling to get to shore.
Hundreds of locals, including children and junior surf lifesavers, rushed to the sand following the alarm, leaving Moore as the sole person in the water.
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The 48-year-old says he did not see the shark, instead focusing on a desperate bid to escape a strong current as a helicopter flew above him monitoring the monster bull shark.
"A lot of things were going through my mind. I started to panic. I started hearing the Jaws music in my head," Moore said.
"I didn't want to think about a shark attack. All my mind kept saying was, 'Get out of the water, get out of the water'.
"Not being a strong swimmer, I was running on adrenaline."
Bull sharks are regarded by experts among the most aggressive shark species. Data shows they have been responsible for 121 unprovoked attacks on humans around the world, 27 of which have been fatal.
A long-time resident of the Sunshine Coast region, Moore regularly swims and exercises at Alexandra Headland and says the last thing he expected was a shark sighting.
"I went to the beach for a Sunday swim with a mate of mine, Dave Mayfield," Moore said.
"He is a local surf lifesaver, a super-fit guy in his late 50s and he said come for a swim with me.
"I was a bit unsure because I'm not a great swimmer. I said, 'Righto, but if I see a shark, I will blow up'.
"Dave said, 'Mate there hasn't been a shark seen around here for a decade, it's all sweet'.
"We swam out about 1km and on the way back in, I heard this alarm. Suddenly, I see all these people running out of the water.
"Because Dave is such a good swimmer, he was well ahead of me and getting out.
"By this point, I'm about 100 metres from shore and I'm cactus, I have no energy left.
"Dave is screaming out to me saying, 'There's a shark in the water'. All the locals and the young nippers have got out of the water.
"There was only one human left in the water … and that's me.
"There's hundreds of people on the sand looking at me and at this point I have no where the shark is and how close he could be.
"I was buggered. I had drunk a bit of water swimming and I'm feeling disoriented."
To compound Moore's plight, the former Queensland and Australia forward encountered another foe - the ocean.
"The problem I had was swimming back in," he said.
"The current was strong and I felt like I was running in quicksand. I was swimming harder but the current kept sucking me back.
"I started to panic a bit. In my head, I kept thinking, 'Just get out'. The last thing I wanted to see was a shark fin approaching.
"The lifeguards had spotted the shark from their vantage point and it turns out the shark was right in the area where me and Dave were swimming.
"Sharks can move pretty quick so it could have been any second for me.
"They kept the people out of the water for another hour. There was a helicopter above tracking the shark's movement. I'm not sure if they captured the shark but they said it was an eight-foot bull shark."
After finally making it back to shore in one piece, Moore said his days of ocean swimming were over.
"Coming from Stanthorpe, there was no water. I used to swim in a creek. Only a catfish would get me there," he said.
"I won't be doing any more ocean swimming, I will be staying nice and close to shore."