A TASMANIAN surfer and medical student who was only a few metres from Tadashi Nakahara when he was taken by a shark at Shelly Beach last week says she struggled to return to the water after the attack.
Brooke Mason told ABC Northern Tasmania she was about 15 metres from Mr Nakahara when he was attacked by a 3.5m-4.2m white pointer.
"We were just talking about how good the waves were and how beautiful the area was and how alive it was," Ms Mason told the ABC.
"I saw him get a great wave, a three-second barrel, and I hooted and hollered for him.
"I saw him take a huge breath and go under and I thought he was just, like, going for a swim.
"But then, right after he was pulled under there was blood everywhere; there was blood near me - it spread out in the water so fast.
"My brain was saying 'that's a shark attack'. My legs were quivering and I looked away and looked back and there was just blood, but he wasn't there.
"My fight or flight response took over and I started paddling in. Everyone was paddling in, not even yelling at first, just so strangely quiet.
"My mind had gone into a kind of war-zone mode. It felt like everyone would be attacked.
"The whole attack was so quiet; I just watched, he was just dragged straight under."
Ms Mason had been staying at Byron while taking a break from her medical studies in Tasmania and used the knowledge from those studies in a futile effort to save Mr Nakahara. She and other surfers at the scene used leg ropes from surf boards as tourniquets to try and stop the bleeding.
Afterwards, Ms Mason returned to Tasmania and struggled with the thought of going back in the water, before flying back to Byron and taking part in a paddle-out with other surfers at The Pass on Monday.
"A few nice waves came right to me and it felt kind of like Tadashi had sent them," she told the ABC.
"He would want us to keep surfing."
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