The mother of professional surfer Mick Fanning has described the terrifying ordeal of watching a shark attack her son during a competition in South Africa, saying "I thought we’d lost him."
The extraordinary attack was captured live on television and it has since emerged that a shark was seen in the water at Jeffreys Bay about four hours earlier. Fanning was not injured but the competition was cancelled after the attack.

Elizabeth Osborne, the mother of the Australian three-time world champion, said she was “beside myself with fear” while watching the incident.
"I was absolutely terrified,” she told ABC News.
“I went over to the television almost as though I could pull him out ... to save him. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I thought we'd lost him … I’m so just grateful he didn’t have a leg missing or anything."

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Ms Osborne paid tribute to Fanning’s friend and surfing opponent, fellow Australian Julian Wilson, who was hailed a hero after paddling towards the shark during the attack. She said she believed her late son Sean, who died in a car crash about 17 years ago, was watching over his brother.

“I’m just relieved that shark thought ‘oh no, I’m not going to do anything here, I’m going’,” she said. “I just thank the shark very much for just disappearing.”

Marine experts praised Fanning’s response and his instinctive attempt to punch the creature but said the shark may not have been intending to attack.

Martin Garwood, from SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, said the shark may have spotted Fanning’s silhouette and approached to “investigate”.

"The way they investigate potential prey is to do one big bite initially, and wait back and see what it actually was, before they go in again," he told Fairfax Media.

"That's unfortunately what can be quite damaging sometimes in these instances, but luckily not in this case … Big sharks are actually quite protective of themselves. They don't want to get injured in any way, so anything that you could possibly do, if you're in that close a range, is going to help you out."

Brendan Donohoe, from Surfrider Foundation Australia, a beach conservation organisation, said the shark did not appear to be in “attack mode”.

"It was extraordinary ... to see a surfer of that calibre and that notoriety actually wrestling with a shark. It is mad," he told ABC News.

"This is clearly an incident, it's not an attack. If the shark was attacking, Mick would have massive injuries if not loss of life. It was the shark I think coming up to investigate what was going on."

Kelly Slater, a former world champion, said he heard from a friend that a shark had been detected by a drone in the vicinity about four hours before the attack. It is not clear whether organisers knew of the sighting.

“I got an email from a friend tonight who said he clearly saw a shark figure in a wave during the quarter-finals from a drone shot," Slater said on Instagram.
Praising his friend, Slater said: "The scariest moment was when he turned around to face where the shark would be coming from after swimming 20 metres towards shore. I can't even imagine the vulnerability he must've felt. Great job by the contest announcers (and) water safety for getting right on it."