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Shark, hungry for tuna, wedges itself into divers' cage

Thursday 20 Oct 2016 10:53 a.m.

(Peter Maguire / YouTube)

(Peter Maguire / YouTube)

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A group shark-diving off Guadalupe Island had the experience of a lifetime when a great white got terrifyingly up close and personal.

Four people were diving when the shark, more than four metres long, approached their submerged cage.

Video shot by diver Peter Maguire, who was in another cage, captured the moment the shark first bit through the divers' air supply, then wedged itself into the cage.

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There was an explosion of bubbles when the air supply hose was punctured, diminishing visibility. But there were bigger problems that just being able to see what was going on.

"As soon as this happens, our cage has half the supply we had, and breathing becomes laboured through the entire event," Mr Maguire said.

"The divemaster shoots to the top to alert the boat that there is a problem, all while one of the biggest sharks we've seen comes to check out what's going on."

The second shark, nicknamed 'Big Mama', cruised up to the commotion but left without getting involved.

Bluewater Travel's Katie Yorker was in the cage at the time and filmed Big Mama's approach on her GoPro.

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When the divemaster returned the divers made their escape.

"As I neared the top of the balcony it was nearly impossible to see anything because the shark was blocking much of the exit, and visibility was limited by all the air bubbles and blood in the water," Ms Yorker said.

All the divers emerged unharmed and the shark was freed from the cage.

None of the divers seem to have been put off by the encounter, though Ms Yorker admitted it was "terrifying".

"Encounters such as this are often sensationalised as man-eating shark attacks," she said. "To be clear, this was in no way a shark attack. It was a shark enticed by the scent of tuna, not humans."

She said encounters similar to theirs were unacceptable for the shark.

"As a group of ocean-loving environmentalists, we should not allow this to happen. I suspect and hope that this incident prompts some changes in the operations, mainly to the design of the cages so that this cannot happen again."

It's believed the shark was unscathed, and was spotted the next day by one of the guides.


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