A SPEAR fisherman has come off lucky after a shock encounter with a two and half metre grey nurse shark in South West Rocks on Sunday.
“I think the shark was hungry - there was a fish and I was in the way,” the recovering man told the Port News of his unlikely attack.
The 31-year-old Sydneysider was nipped on the knee by the shark, while spear fishing close to Smoky Cape near Green Island.
The bite left him with minor injuries and 18 puncture wounds to his knee and thigh, but he is recovering well and should be back on his feet within days.
He was visiting the area with his three friends and cousin, when the unthinkable happened on Sunday afternoon.
“We anchored the boat off the headland at Smoky Cape and I buddied up with my friend,” he said. “I caught a small jew fish and I was trying to swim back to the boat.”
Aware sharks were known to steal fish from lines, he kept his small prize in his left hand and spear in his right.
“I decided to dive to the bottom and see what was going on. There was a grey nurse shark hanging around where I first caught the fish,” he said.
“A lot of people say they are quite placid and easy going, docile sharks, so I wasn’t too bothered.”
With the coast clear, the man continued on towards the boat some 100m in the distance.
“Next thing I knew I felt a kick, and I thought my fish had come back to life. But when I looked down there was a shark attached to my knee.”
“I suspect it was just going for the fish and missed it at its first attempt.”
The shark let go, and as soon as it realised its mistake tried grabbing the dew fish instead.
“I wasn’t going to let that happen.
“I guess when it realised it wasn’t going to get an easy meal it swam off.”
With his jew fish still in hand the man swam back to the boat, yelling for his cousin.
By the time the anchor was pulled up, he was sitting in the boat with his leg elevated and his puncture wounds oozing blood from his torn wetsuit.
“It didn’t really hurt much at the time, it was a strange sensation,” he said. “I think the adrenaline kicked in, and I just didn’t have time to panic.”
The long-time spear fisherman said he had “no hard feelings” towards the shark.
And the ocean-lover would aim to get back in the water as soon as possible.
“My family might not be too keen to see me back in the water, but I love the ocean.
“It’s unlikely, and as cliched as it sounds, you are in their domain. I have a great deal of respect for the ocean and for sharks.”
His friends called 000 as soon as he made it to the boat, and three ambulances were waiting on shore.
He was discharged from the Port Macquarie Base Hospital yesterday.