A lot of people would say you have got reason
more than most to hate sharks and yet you don’t. Can you explain it?>>It was in a spear fishing championship
that I was the reigning champion. It was a six hour competition. After four hours many
fish had been speared and each one had bled into the water. The tide had gone out, but
nobody had seen any sharks. And I went out a bit wider and deeper to try and find fish
that hadn’t been scared. And as I dived down I was just about to spear a fish when this
thump and crash hit me in the chest, knocked the gun out of my hand, the mask off my face.
I was held through the water. Then I realized it had to be a shark.
And I felt: What can I do to protect myself? So I gouged the shark’s head over with my
fingers trying to get its eyes. It seemed to let go and as it… I fell away. I pushed
at that shark to try and push it away. But my hand went right in his mouth, ripping.
I ended up with only one tendon left and 94 stitches in my hand. But I grabbed the shark
around the belly and still 30, 40 feet under water holding on and then I realized air,
because I was snorkeling and I was going to drown. I pushed up to the surface. And on the surface
I yelled out: Shark, shark. And I looked down and the shark was coming back to attack again.
I could see this great big head and white teeth coming up through the blood red water
and I thought: I have got nothing at all to protect myself. I kicked at the shark. But
then a miracle happened. The shark turned and swallowed the float that I had attached
two or three fish to. It dived and as it dived it dragged me under water and it… I am on
the rope. And as it dragged down I tried to find my belt to get rid of it, but I couldn’t
find it. I couldn’t find the catch. And I hadn’t breathed… deep breathed much. And
I was just about to gasp water and drown when another miracle happened. The line broke.
It was severed when the shark bit me around the chest and it managed to break. As I came up to the surface yelling out: Shark,
shark, shark, a boat actually had seen the bright red water, my blood, and was coming
over to investigate. They quickly picked me up, rolled me into the boat and with really
great precision I was in a hospital within an hour given blood and luckily stitched up.
The photographs that were taken on the operating table and my stories went around the world.
People wondered whether I would go back in the water. It was when I was at the Adelaide Zoo looking
at the lion cages that I came up with the idea. I will make a cage. I will lower it
over the side of the boat in an area where these great big great white sharks habit and
I will have a look for myself to see if I want to go diving again, because I loved diving,
but I was really scared. We made the first cage and on that first expedition,
you know, 48 years ago, we made the first great white shark films ever.>>That firs time that you put the cage in
the water, did that cure your fear?>>Not really at all. It helped. The first
shark that came really looked like a small submarine with a deadly front on it like a
torpedo to the teeth. We thought maybe the sharks were interested in the people inside.
But then we found that they would come up an bite on the cage even when there was no
one in it and what we ended up finding it was the electrolysis that was sent out by
the salt water on the seal that attracted them.>>And so now that you spend so much time
with sharks, I mean, how do you feel about them?>>They are a wonderful, interesting
animal. And even today they still need help, because people still fear and dread them because
they are the last major predator that will eat you. But with education, it think people
will understand that we need them in our oceans and of 400 varieties, there is only a handful
that may bite people. The more I got interested in sharks and the
more I loved the sea, I was able to return and go abalone diving all around… along
our coastline. I spent 16 years and 5000 hours or more underwater and on those occasions
I only saw three sharks. Normally they don’t have humans on their menu list. They prefer
to stick to their own food. Thank goodness they didn’t, because along our beaches they
could … there would be a real smorgasbord if they wanted to.>>A lot of people would say you have got
reason, more than most, to hate sharks and yet you don’t. Can you explain it?>>It is the anomaly of this fear that was
generated and shown to me after my shark attack made me think. Going back into the water was
a real relief and I found it wasn’t as bad as everybody thought. So I spent the whole
of my life trying to put sharks in a different perspective.>>Because of that experience you had.>>Because of my experience, yes.