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It was calm and still the day an Albany woman driven by instinct swam out to save the life of a fellow surf club member who had been attacked by a shark off Western Australia’s south coast.

Joanne Lucas’ bravery in doing so has earned her the Star of Courage, a bravery award which will presented by the Governor-General Quentin Bryce.

The 54-year-old mother of three had arrived at Middleton Beach, Albany, early on May 10 last year, ahead of a surf club event.

“It was very still and calm, and the sun was shining, and there were dolphins flipping about, a whole pod of dolphins …” Ms Lucas said.

But a short time later, a woman ran up the beach telling her a man had been attacked by a shark.

“I said: `No, no, it’s the dolphins’ and she said: `No it’s a shark’,” Ms Lucas said.

Ms Lucas said running down to the beach, driven by instinct and adrenalin, she stripped off her tracksuit pants and swam 80 metres to where fellow surf club member Jason Cull was critically injured, barely able to swim or tread water.

“It was a completely instinctive thing. I didn’t think: `There’s a shark out there maybe I shouldn’t go out there’,” she said.

“I just thought I’ve got to get this guy out and I’ve got to get him back in.”

All the while, the shark manoeuvred around the scene, with Ms Lucas fearing the frantic splashing of two nearby swimmers trying to scare it away would steer the shark toward her and Mr Cull.

She said she kicked harder and made it to shore where Mr Cull was treated for his injuries.

His leg was completely ripped open from his ankle right up to his knee and he had been “nipped” on the other knee, Ms Lucas said.     Article_shark-200x0

Ms Lucas said she was happy to see Mr Cull now back on his feet and cycling around the place.

Being awarded the star of courage was humbling, she said.

“I’m very honoured and humbled to receive this.”

Ms Lucas said she was quickly back on the beach after the attack.

“It hasn’t turned me off the ocean at all,” she said.

“I actually scan the ocean before I go in now …”

The governor-general is expected to present the star of courage to Ms Lucas at a ceremony early next year.

Source www.watoday.com.au

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In the waters off  WA’s North West Cape between the months of March and July 2009 there has been a rather unusual whale-shark-with-fishnumber of whale sharks  seen in the area,  these gentle giants can grow between 12 to 18 metres in size. 

This season has been especially good for the whale shark tours operating out of Exmouth and Coral Bay.                       

Ocean Eco Adventures can offer one of the best day tours for whale shark encounters with its own spotter plane.

You can enjoy an encounter with a whale shark snorkelling.  The sharks can be playful with a strong  personalitiy and clear intelligence, they can interact with the swimmers.

The sharks are definitely the stars of the show on these tours and all the crew do offer a high standard of service.  

 

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