A British diver has spoken of the moment he was chased by a tiger shark during his marathon 7.5km swim back to shore.
British expat John Craig, 34, was fishing underwater between Denham and Cape Peron in Western Australia when his boat experienced engine problems and was swept away in strong currents.
After shouting and splashing in an attempt to alert his crew mate, Mr Craig put his head in the water and saw the 4m (13ft) tiger shark “approaching within arm’s reach”.
He then spotted a sandbar whaler shark circling behind him, and decided he had no choice but to swim for his life – a journey that would take him more than three hours.
Mr Craig told 9News: “I knew immediately that I had to try to calm down in order to survive.
“(The tiger shark) was definitely trying to work out what I was and whether I could be on the menu, but each time it approached I used my speargun to block its path.”
“The red cliffs of Francois Peron National Park were very low on the horizon and I knew it was going to be a long swim.
“The tiger shark was still curious as ever and began following me as I started swimming.
“I have to admit that at this point I thought I was gone – four nautical miles out to sea with a huge tiger shark following me – I thought this was it, this is how I’m going to die.”
Mr Craig said the tiger shark would periodically tail off before suddenly reappearing and “keeping pace with me behind my fins”.
After a while it started to cruise beside the diver “almost like a whale shark”, before it made an unexpected departure.
Mr Craig said: “For about 500 metres the shark swam on the same path as me towards the shore and then in a moment banked and disappeared completely as if to say ‘you’re OK now, I’ll leave you alone’.
“The shark was gone but I wasn’t sure it wouldn’t return.
“The next part was pure endurance, I had to swim constantly looking around from all angles to make sure there wasn’t an unwelcome visitor, with my speargun pointed behind me to stop anything grabbing my fins.”
Mr Craig made it to shore and was picked up by rescue workers, who reunited him with his wife.
Shark Bay Volunteer Marine Rescue commander Greg Ridgley said the diver’s experience made for “an absolutely incredible story”.
He told Perth’s Sunday Times: “He swam…in shark-infested waters. I just can’t believe anybody could do that. It’s such a massive effort.”
Tiger sharks are the second most deadly shark species behind great whites, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.