BRITISH diver Matt Bowen today told how he cheated death when a man-eating shark ripped his leg to shreds – by KICKING it with his other free foot.
Matt, 23, was exploring a shipwreck 100 feet below the surface off Western Australia when the terrifying attack happened.
A ten-foot bull shark – one of the world's most dangerous – clamped its huge jaw on to his left leg.
Matt first thought it was female diving partner Alex McFadyen playing a prank on him until he turned to see the deadly shark staring back.
He frantically kicked out as the ferocious beast clung on to his calf, ripping the muscle and sending blood streaming into the water.
Canadian Alex bravely swam to his aid and also kicked the shark until it released its grip and turned tail.
Alex then grabbed Matt and quickly propelled them both to the surface where they waved to their dive boat to pick them up – fearing the creature would return for a second attack.
Matt, from Warrington, Cheshire, was rushed to a local hospital before being transferred to Perth for specialist treatment.
He underwent a series of skin grafts and was bedridden for two weeks as he recovered.
He then needed a further six weeks of intensive physio before he could walk properly again and has been left with a 10-inch long scar along his calf as a permanent reminder of the attack.
Matt, who was a gas engineer before setting off to travel the world, said: "It was scary but I was in so much shock at the time I barely even felt it to begin with.
"I got my diving qualification while I was in Australia and took the opportunity to dive whenever I could.
"You hear stories of shark attacks all the time, but usually when you see them they swim around for a while and ignore you.
"My buddy and I used to mess around all the time, grabbing each other by the legs and pretending it was a shark attack.
"So when I felt a tug on my leg, I initially thought it was her. It wasn't really painful but it suddenly got a lot more vigorous and violent.
"I turned round to see what was going on and there was this three metre shark clinging on to me.
"I started kicking it as hard as I could to free my leg. I was aiming for the head but doing whatever I could to get it away from me.
"It would have gone for me again, but luckily I got my flippers in the way.
"My buddy pulled me away, kicking the shark at the same time.
"Eventually it turned round and swam away and we managed to get up to the surface.
"We waved to the dinghy to pick us up while Alex looked through the cloud of blood beneath us to see whether the shark was coming back.
"When I looked at my leg, all I could see was this bloody mess. Instead of a calf, all I could see was a hunk of shredded tissue and blood.
"The shock and adrenaline soon wore off and I was in a world of pain and slipping in and out of consciousness for a while."
Despite his near-death experience Matt says he still plans to dive.
He added: "It definitely hasn't put me off sharks or going in the sea.
"I've been told that the shark was a bull shark. They are aggressive but I now know they often hide their babies in wrecks, like the one where I was diving.
"That is probably why this one attacked me, to protect her babies from what she thought was a threat."
Matt is now working at a surf school on the east coast of Australia and plans to visit New Zealand, Thailand and Canada before returning home.
He said: "After the attack I waited until I was a bit better before I phoned my mum.
"There was a lot of screaming of course. She was really worried and wanted me to come home, but I told her I would rather recover on a sunny beach and she understood."
Bull sharks – Carcharhinus leucas in Latin – are one of the top four most dangerous shark species in the world.
They are unpredictable and aggressive and are normally found in shallow water which means they are responsible for the majority of shark attacks on humans that take place near the shore.
In India, bull sharks even cruise up the River Ganges where they have killed and attacked a large number of people.
A few weeks after the attack Matt bumped into Neighbours actor Alan Fletcher during a night out in Sydney and had his photo taken with him. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/ne ... shark.html