Michael Dornellas recently had a unique shark encounter in the Bahamas. The thirty-one-year-old was head-butted by a blind lemon shark.
The encounter occurred while he was filming videos with friend at Tiger Beach, a popular diving spot. The area is known to host a large population of tiger sharks, and has been featured in a variety of episodes during Shark Week.
Dornellas was recording himself while he was free diving to the sandy bottom. As he was taking in his surroundings he was unaware of the blind shark swimming toward his head. Right before impact, Dornellas turned and the shark crashed into his mask.
“The shark broke my mask and smashed it against my face,” Dornellas told the Daily Mail.
The shark’s impact caused minor injuries to Michael’s mask, and he quickly swam back to the surface. But, the head-butt didn’t keep him out of the water.
“As soon as I’d fixed my mask I went back down and kept diving – it’s what I love to do,” he said.
Although he has been bumped by sharks before, this experience was unique. “‘I’ve been hit by sharks before, but never in the face. She got me pretty good.”
Even though he has some serious bruising from the impact, he holds no ill will against the shark.
“That shark is actually blind in its left eye, we found out. So she didn’t see me as much as I didn’t see her.
“She wasn’t trying to bite me or be aggressive. After the collision, she took off. I think I scared her really badly, so I felt bad.”
Lemon sharks are known to be docile and do not pose a large threat to humans. The Bahamian lemon shark population, which has been studied in Bimini since 1967, has suffered a severe decline. The sharks give birth in mangroves, some of which have been destroyed as the island has been developed.