British Diver Swims Almost Five Miles After Tiger Shark Encounter
A British diver swam over 4.5 miles to safety after becoming separated from his dive boat, with a tiger shark as his sole companion for part of the journey.
Sunderland-born John Craig, 34, was diving out of Shark Bay in Western Australia, when he surfaced to find his dive boat, which had suffered an engine failure, was nowhere to be seen. After five minutes of splashing in the water and shouting to attract attention, he decided to head for shore.
In an interview with Australian broadcaster ABC, Craig, who has been an instructor in Shark Bay for several years, said that he put his head underwater to check his location and saw a four-metre-long tiger shark 'within arm's reach.'
'It was easily the biggest tiger shark I've been in the water with and that's saying something having worked as a dive instructor for over 10 years,' said Craig. 'Its head was nearly a metre wide, it was about three times the girth of me and it was just like a submarine just circling.'
The tiger shark, however, was not the only predator to have been attracted by Craig's splashing, as he also spotted a 'large sandbar whaler' circling behind him. 'At that point,' said Craig, 'I decided to give up on getting to the boat and save myself.'
Although the tiger shark disappeared after around 15 minutes, Craig still endured a 4.5 mile swim to shore, eventually making landfall over three hours later, exhausted and barely able to stand.
Sighting the rescue boats in the distance, Craig desperately wanted to let his wife know he was okay, however, it was not until the search and rescue plane made it's last pass of the day that he was spotted, yelling and waving from the beach.
Reflecting on the day's events, Craig said that although he was initially concerned for his safety, he knows that tiger sharks do not usually predate on humans. 'These animals are apex predators but we are not on the menu,' he said. 'We need them in the oceans and, as much as it was scary at the time, if the circumstances were different I would have been stoked to have that experience.'
Once the drama had settled, like all good divers, Mr Craig headed to the pub, where he congratulated the search and rescue teams, police and local boat owners who participated in the rescue. 'I am eternally grateful,' said Craig, 'and I'm sure I'll be buying beers for years to come.'