As reported on

Fergal Smith, 21, was surfing two miles off the coast of Perth, Western Australia when the shark came within a few feet of him.

Fergal Smith and friend in West Oz. Photo courtesy of

The holidaymaker, from County Mayo, Ireland, only discovered his close shave when a local photographer Phil Gallagher showed him the picture.

Contributors to Australia’s Surfing Life magazine have awarded the Irishman the “Euro surf-dude of the month” award.

Its website read: “Just imagine being in the barrel and looking at a massive shark like you’re at the bloody aquarium or something.

“Hats off to you Fergal Smith, you’re our Euro surf-dude of the month.”

Mr Gallagher, 29, from Perth, said: “Great Whites are common out here but I have never seen one that near to a surfer before.”

Mr Smith said he “couldn’t help but laugh” when he saw the photograph but added that his mother Brid, 51, had “freaked out big time”.

He added: “I saw a grey shape in the wave but I thought it was the reflection of a slab of rock – how wrong was I?”

Since 1876 Great White sharks have been responsible for 65 deaths and 242 recorded non-fatal attacks worldwide. Australia has had the most fatal Great White attacks in the world with 27 deaths, the most recent in 2005.