Diver’s fin snatched by 3.5 metre great white shark
A NEW SOUTH WALES free diver has emerged from an encounter with a 3.5m great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) unscathed, but without one of his fins.
While diving in waters just off Wollongong’s Five Islands, Callum Stewart says he felt a slight bump followed by a brush against his arm, which he assumed was from an overly enthusiastic seal.
“I turned around to have a look and that’s when I saw it was a shark,” Callum told Fairfax media.
“It did a full 180-degree turn and came back to look at me. That’s probably the point I realised I might be in trouble.
“The most amazing memory I have is looking this thing dead in the eye, and wondering if that was the last thing I’m going to see. I was kind of caught up in the beauty of it.”
It wasn’t until later that he realised the shark had managed to sneakily snatch the fin from his foot.
His diving companion, Coralie Fleming, however, witnessed the whole scene in fright. Her partner Mitchell Scanlan-Bloor managed to capture the encounter on camera.
“It [the shark] opened its massive mouth and as it’s closed its mouth it kind of ripped down as it went to swim away,” she said. “There was one metre [missing] off Callum’s body. I was horrified, then I realised it was just the fin,” she told Fairfax .
“We’re just lucky that it was an investigatory bite and didn’t involve any missing limbs.
“Once we got back on the boat I was pretty upset and a little bit shocked, but it’s a really beautiful encounter with out of our most revered apex predator. It’s this really weird combination of being terrified, but also completely in awe.”
Just a test bite
The Department of Primary Industries’ head shark researcher Vic Peddemors told Fairfax that the shark would have been taking a test bite to investigate a potential food source.
“I didn’t get the impression it came hurtling at Callum,” he said.
“If it had, it would have pushed him right out of the water with a shark of that size, and it wouldn’t have just been his fin that was missing.”