INJURED – 23 January 2007 – Cape Howe, New South Wales, Australia – diver attacked
Eric Nerhus, 41, escaped with his life, a broken nose and minor cuts to his torso, after a three to four metre Great White shark swallowed half his body, head first.
Nerhus, an Australian, was diving for abalone off Cape Howe, New South Wales, Australia, a place he’d dived hundreds of times previously. The attack took place on Tuesday 23 January 2007, while he was collecting abalone 25 feet below the surface. He was diving with his son and other divers, according to media reports.
“Half my body was in its mouth,” he told media.
“I went straight into its mouth, front onwards. My shoulders, my head and one arm went straight down into its throat. I could feel the teeth crunching up and down on my weight vest,” he said.
It seems the lead-lined vest Nerhus was wearing as a diving weight saved his life.
He said he spent two minutes inside the shark’s mouth, without his air supply, and with his head being crushed as the shark’s teeth scraped across his lead vest.
With his free arm he said “I felt down to the eye socket with my two fingers and poked them into the socket. The shark reacted by opening its mouth and I just tried to wriggle out. It was still trying to bite me.”
It crushed his goggles into his face breaking his nose. The goggles fell into its mouth.
Nerhus ascended slowly, trying to remain calm with the shark swimming tight circles around his swim fins.
“The big round black eye, five inches wide, was staring straight into my face with just not one hint of fear, of any boat, or any human, or any other animal in the sea.
“They have just got no fear, those sharks.”
He son and tow other divers hoisted him into the fishing boat as the shark made another lunge for him.
“Just before I got out of the water it was just coming up under my legs again, so I’m sure it would’ve probably bit my legs off on the next one,” he said.
Nerhus was flown to hospital, where he managed to sit up in bed the next day to be interviewed by media.