Stab Magazine | Going Viral Is Fun And Bizarre: Dan Caban On Life After The Shark Photo
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Going Viral Is Fun And Bizarre: Dan Caban On Life After The Shark Photo

Two days ago at Caves Beach, Daniel Caban shared a photo with a breaching great white shark. Here, he describes the following 48 hours of fame in 2016’s brave, digital world.

news // Jun 9, 2016
Words by Words
Reading Time: 3 minutes

6:05AM and my phone is going mental, inches from my face. This past week, that would have been commonplace: Ringing around, telling everyone to get out of bed and ring the boss, tell them you aren’t in for the day.

“Hi, I’m calling from the Today Show, have I got Daniel on the line?”

Yep, this was no sickie call.

A day ago I was just like any other surfer from Newcastle, or anywhere on the East Coast for that matter, who was shitting themselves as eight to 10 foot avalanches threw us over the falls into our nightmares all because I didn’t want the local boys to see me pull back.

I’m no charger. My 5’11” looked like a twig compared to the 7’6” single fin ridden by the old guy at every local break that only comes out when it’s huge. But none of that mattered when I took off on an insider, blew a chance at a half decent pit, and one of our mates in grey suits decided to put on a show. I was still too busy hoping no one saw my attempted stall to realise what was going on though.

The rest, well, thanks to just about every media source in the country, has been well reported, re-storied time over. I got my first cover shot on the front of the Daily Telegraph – not quite a surf magazine, but I’ll take it. I went on every radio show from Wollongong to WA, chatted with Karl and Lisa off-air and found out the guys on The Project are just about the nicest people in the world. It was pretty rad. Now folks in the UK and elsewhere around the world are even labelling me “The Shark Surfer”… man, I was just out there trying to get my daily head dip.

In the past 24 hours I’ve been asked on national television about my views on shark culling, been called crazy multiple times and have watched as myself and Nathan (the photographer) have been called out on social media as having said I “cheated death” or “the shark was huge”. Pfft, not once did we say any of those things, yet, as the day rolled on, what started as a once-in-a-lifetime experience turned into a media frenzy. All for a shark a hundred metres away, that I never even saw.

I was completely unaware of what had happened, and Jesse (the only other surfer in the water) and I paddled back out, with horns going off from the carpark thinking there must have been a set coming – maybe this was my chance to get a proper pit. But when someone ties a flannelette shirt to a wooden crutch and starts waving it wildly… that’ll send you in real quick.

A lot of people have either heard or seen what’s happened by now. People ate it up. But conversation around a photo we just thought was cool has a couple of times been taken way off into places we never intended.

People thought that we were just trying to make a story out of it to get our five minutes of fame, or that it was lame that we brought camera crews to our home beach. I was even personally criticised on Facebook, someone telling me that if I had a real day job and paid taxes I wouldn’t be surfing during the day and this wouldn’t of happened! He wont be getting a schooner if I ever serve him at my night job.

My story was never to say a 5 metre white snagged my leggie so I could claim some Fanning-esque immortality, I’ll be the first to say that without everyone in the carpark, I certainly wouldn’t have had a clue of the visitor in the line-up – and that’s not a reality I want to think of. We, outside of myself and Nathan, being the whole local surfing community, were just absolutely stoked that this happened in our own back yard, and, as melodramatic as it may sound, were all safe enough to stand around and laugh about it.

The 24 hour news frenzy means the online articles will stop being posted soon, if they haven’t already, and with them the comments writing us off’ll stop too. Except for below, obviously. Wednesday, the East Coast continued to pump and as much as I was enjoying the novelty of ear pieces and chatting with Gold Logie winners and talk show hosts in Tassie, like most of us I was itching to get back out there – to try and get another avalanche so I wouldn’t be known as the ‘guy who pulled back’ by my friends in the car park – which is much probably worse than anything that could have been written online about me.

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