Diver From Sunderland Stalked By Shark

23 October 2017, 12:36

Tiger Shark

A diver from Sunderland said he was stalked by a tiger shark as he swam nearly five miles (8km) to shore after being stranded off the Australian coast.

John Craig had been spearfishing near Shark Bay, around 500 miles (805km) north of Perth, when he became separated from his boat in waters home to the deadly predators.

Screaming for help, the 34-year-old soon realised that his desperate attempts to draw attention to himself had attracted one of the bay's killer residents.

He said in a Facebook post: "I had been splashing and screaming for some time and my heart rate was sky high.

"I put my head in the water to check I was in the same place and suddenly saw a huge 4m (13ft) tiger shark approaching within arm's reach.

"It was easily the biggest tiger shark I've been in the water with and that's saying something, having worked as a dive instructor for over 10 years.

"I quickly turned and saw another large sandbar whaler circling behind me and it was at that point I decided to give up on getting to the boat and save myself."

Mr Craig said watched as the shark circled him before approaching him "multiple times from different angles".

"It was definitely trying to work out what I was and whether I could be 'on the menu', but each time it approached I used my spear gun to block its path.

"At no point did I touch the shark as I didn't want to upset it with a prod from the spear and make a bad situation worse."

After two minutes locked in a "dance" with the shark and fearful of "upsetting" it, Mr Craig realised he had to make a life-or-death attempt to get to shore - although he was unable to shake off the predator.

"At this point I thought I was gone - four nautical miles (4.6 miles) out to sea with a huge tiger shark following me - I thought this was it, this is how I'm going to die," he said.

As he headed for land, which he knew remained a huge swim away, Mr Craig said he was constantly aware of the shark following a short distance behind.

He watched as it would disappear into the gloom "then suddenly reappear behind me, just keeping pace with me behind my fins".

At one point the shark cruised beside him as if it was a whale shark, a harmless cousin of the tiger species.

"For about 500m the shark swam on the same path as me towards the shore and then in a moment banked and disappeared completely as if to say 'You're OK now, I'll leave you alone'," Mr Craig wrote.