South Africa: Diver's Spear Repels Great White Attack
Cape Argus (Cape Town)
October 2, 2006
Posted to the web October 2, 2006
A professional diver from Strandfontein has told how he speared a shark in its nose as it swam towards him with its jaws wide open along the False Bay coast at the weekend.
Joseph Johnston, 36, said he and a group of divers had been spearfishing around Miller's Point - between Rumbly Bay and Castle Rock - on Saturday afternoon when a shark approached him.
Johnston, a fire department training officer and a rescue diver, said the group had been about 300m from the shore and about to move to another reef.
"We often see sharks and they never bother us, but this one was heading straight for me," he said.
When the shark was about two metres away from Johnston it had opened its jaws.
Johnston said he had instinctively grabbed his speargun, aimed and fired.
"I hit it in the nose and it turned and headed towards Louis."
Louis Simpson of Ottery was a about 2m away. "It moved underneath me - it was definitely a great white, it could've been at least four metres," Simpson said.
The shark moved vigorously in the water, causing the top of the 7mm-diameter spear to break off. It swam away with the point stuck in its nose.
Simpson said the shark's ap-pearance had been unexpected because the group had used camouflage suits, so that they could not be mistaken for seals and had boogie boards, so there was no fish blood in the water.
"We got everyone out of the water and called the shark spotters to notify them about the injured animal," Johnston said.
Yvonne Kamp, co-ordinator of the shark-spotting programme, said Johnston and his group had been lucky.
Spear fishermen often spotted sharks because they ventured deep into the water.
"We are hoping that, particularly at this time, people are going to report sharks spotted from the shore and in the water," she said
A shark was spotted in Fish Hoek bay yesterday.
Johnston said he had been lucky that visibility was good, so that he was able to spot the shark from quite a distance.
The encounter has not put Johnston off his hobby. He was back in the water yesterday.
Last week, a huge great white shark, measuring about 4.5 metres was spotted off Fish Hoek beach. Great white sharks appear to be following their spring migration inshore into False Bay, according to experts.