A Professional Abalone Diver Was Bitten On The Head By A Great White Shark Today Before Poking It In The Eye To Escape.
Eric Nerhus, 41, was diving with his 25-year-old son and a group of other divers at Cape Howe, near Eden, when he was attacked by the 3m white pointer about 10.30am (AEDT).
The shark grabbed Mr Nerhus by the head, crushing his face mask inwards and breaking his nose, said friend and fellow diver Dennis Luobikis.
“He was actually bitten by the head down, the shark swallowed his head,” Mr Luobikis said.
The shark then took a second bite, clamping its jaws around Mr Nerhus’s torso and tearing deep cuts in each side of his body.
Mr Nerhus, a well-known local diver with more than five years’ experience, struggled free from the shark’s jaws and was pulled back aboard the boat by his son.
Two other divers in a nearby boat gave him first aid and one radioed his father, who was flying overhead in a spotter plane, to call for help.
The Snowy Hydro Rescue Helicopter arrived shortly after 11.10am and took Mr Nerhus, who was suffering from shock and blood loss, to Wollongong Hospital.
He is in a serious but stable condition.
Mr Nerhus told his rescuers he poked the shark in the eye to fight his way free, a Snowy Hydro Rescue Helicopter spokeswoman said.
Mr Luobikis, 53, said it was a miracle his friend was alive.
“Eric is a tough boy, he’s super fit,” he said. “But I would say that would test anyone’s resolve, being a fish lunch.”
“He’d have a better chance of winning the lotto (than surviving that attack), and I think he would have rather done that.”
There had been a rash of white pointer sightings in recent weeks because of unusually cold water off Eden, but such an attack was unheard of, Mr Luobikis said.
“I have been a professional diver in Eden for 36 years and I’m not aware of any white pointer attacks in that time,” he said.
Rough conditions deterred many divers from venturing out this morning, Mr Luobikis said.
Swimmers were evacuated from three popular south coast beaches last week after sharks were spotted during aerial patrols.
The white pointer, or great white shark, is the world’s largest known predatory fish, with an average length of 4m-5m.
It can grow up to 6m and thrives in colder waters.