By Jack Williams
A British holidaymaker was left stunned on a recent diving trip, as a spooked shark attacked a fellow diver, clamping on to his leg while another individual attempted to wrestle it off.
In the incredibly crisp point-of-view footage, captured by Dan White of Farnham, Surrey, the oceanic white tip shark can be seen sharply approaching divers in the group for number of minutes before eventually striking out.
As the shark clamped onto the diver’s leg, audible screams could be heard in the footage captured by Dan, 28, who was on vacation with his girlfriend, Shaunie Thomas, 23.
Once the shark let go, a plume of what appeared to be blood spread into the surrounding waters.
The incident took place on November 3, 2018, off Brother Islands in the Red Sea, Egypt.
Dan, who has undertaken around 50 dives, withheld releasing his footage until now, as he wanted to make sure the attacked diver was aware there was video of the incident.
The diver was from Germany and in a separate tour group, but through outreach after the incident it Dan managed to confirm that the diver was aware the video had been taken, he said.
By releasing the footage, the British diver hopes others in the sport can learn from the experience and decide what not to do in similar situations, when sharks become aggressive.
Dan believed that the shark on this particular occasion became spooked by a diver’s bubble, before then heading over to the group to investigate.
Some surveys have put oceanic whitetips in the top five most dangerous sharks in the world, and the species earned a reputation of being the first to approach ocean ships that had run afoul during wartime.
Dan, speaking of the footage, said: “Some don’t believe it’s real – and most tell me I’m crazy for getting in the water in the first place.
“I’ve heard of shark attacks on the news and in magazines, but I’ve never heard of anything like this happening near me let alone witnessed it before.
“I’ve learnt that sharks aren’t to be taken lightly – they’re unpredictable and as we are in their home they always have the upper hand.
“Everyone needs to stay vigilant whilst diving with them.”
After the attack, Dan said, the German diver was taken aboard his boat and rushed to hospital.
Divers with Dan’s group then rushed aboard their boat.
Despite witnessing such a traumatic event, Dan and Shaunie returned to the water the very next day.
He said: “I’ve already had people tell me the shark needs to be removed from the water, but they fail to understand we went into its home, not the other way around.
“This isn’t a jaws story it’s a simple case of wrong place, wrong time.”
Since the incident, it has been announced that the waters off Brothers Island will be closed for diving activities for the rest of the year.
The attacked was not the first of its kind in the area: in total, four divers have been bitten in the waters off Brothers Island since June.
Explaining the situation in a Facebook post, Red Sea Sharks, a group dedicated to research and education to help protect sharks in the Red Sea, wrote: “The constant presence of liveaboards over the last years accompanied by their sounds and smells, intentional and unintentional feeding of sharks, the illegal fishing activities, and changes in the way that dives are being conducted out there, is (at least to a huge degree) to blame for the current situation.
“So besides removing the stimuli rewarding oceanics to hang around dive sites for extended periods of time, it will give the industry the chance to review practices, ensure the proper training of everybody involved, and make sure violators of the agreed practices are severely punished in the future.”
Kevin McMurray, a shark attack researcher and owner of Tracking Sharks, a shark information website, said: “Oceanic whitetips are deep ocean sharks that are known to cruise toward the shallows near deep water drop offs.
“The shark in Mr. White’s footage appeared to behave in an anxious manner and displayed signs of agitation.
“It also appeared to be sizing up the diver in the shorty as it drew near, as if it would bump him, probing.
“However, the diver kicked away in a horizontal pattern, which might have mimicked prey, and excited the shark.
“The large number of divers surrounding the shark could have contributed to the incident, as well as their positions in the water.
“Divers who encounter sharks are advised to stay vertical, and form a group with other divers.
“More importantly, they should watch the closest shark and be ready to – safely- push it away should it come too close.”