A freediver has had an incredibly lucky start to 2018.
Callum Stewart had a very close encounter with a great white shark a few weekends back and has somehow lived to tell the tale.
The Illawarra Mercury reports that Stewart was diving in waters off Wollongong’s Five Islands on Saturday when he felt something bump into him from behind.
At first he thought some seals were the culprits, but upon turning around he realised it was much, much worse.
“I turned around to have a look and that’s when I saw it was a shark,” Stewart told The Illawarra Mercury.
Stewart said that he turned around and started to think he “might be in trouble”. That’s an early contender for understatement of the year.
“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,” he continued. “I was kind of caught up in the beauty of it. I realised later, it had my fin in its mouth.”
Stewarts’s diving companion Coralie Fleming watched in horror, at first believing that Stewart had become shark food.
Fleming’s boyfriend Mitchell Scanlan-Bloor caught the incredible encounter on camera.
The diving trio got out of the water as fast as possible, choosing the relative safety of some nearby rocks over their boat, which was 30 metres away.
A shark expert told The Illawarra Mercury that diving or swimming near seals raises the chances of bumping into a shark.
It is thought that the shark took a “test bite” of Stewart, to see if he was tasty or not. Luckily for Stewart, the fin can’t have gone down too well.
According to the Australia Shark Attack File, a general trend towards more recreational time in coastal waters has increased the chances of shark attacks worldwide.
In Australia last year, there were a total of 19 attacks, three of which were “provoked” (initiated by humans, e.g while fishing). One person was fatally injured, 11 were injured and seven walked away unscathed. Luckily Stewart can count himself in that last group.