LOCAL surfer Troy Robinson always felt safe when dolphins swam nearby, until a close encounter at a Margaret River beach recently left him with a broken arm.
“I was surfing at Ellensbrook by myself and there were heaps of dolphins around me, about 30,” he said.
“It was amazing, they were so close.”
But as the water got foamy and a group of them began coming towards him on a wave, Troy realised he might be in trouble.
“Next minute, I ducked dived under and it was like a torpedo hit me,” he said.
“I think [a dolphin went to jump] and it came up under me.
He said the dolphin was about 6ft long and “solid”.
“It put a hole in my board and you can see where it scraped its nose along it.”
His left arm also took a beating, snapping one of the major bones. With one completely useless arm, Troy resurfaced and paddled himself to shore with his good arm.
“At first I thought the bone was sticking out,” he joked.
“It was painful but not as bad as I thought.
“Some guys on the beach saw me struggling and came to help.”
He drove to Bunbury Hospital where he stayed overnight and had surgery to reconstruct the bone with a metal plate.
Troy said, “Everyone says it’s a nice story to tell your grandchildren.”
He said while it was almost unheard of, he had learned of two similar cases in the state since; one man has broken ribs from a dolphin swimming into him and another was injured when a dolphin landed on his legs.
“Maybe it’s mating season or something but they seem to be really hyped up,” Troy said.
Though he hasn’t been keen to surf since the incident about four weeks ago and had to have time off from his job at a local supermarket because of the pain, Troy said he feels lucky the situation wasn’t worse.
“It was lucky really, if it hit me in the head it could have knocked me out or killed me,” he said.
And, of course, it could have been a shark.
However, he was sad about his board. “I made it, it’s a really good board!”
Troy hopes people, especially surfers, will become more aware and “no one else gets smashed by dolphins”.
“It can happen,” he said.