Fighting off a Great White Shark

Matt Pullella was spearfishing on December 29, 2014 when his friend Jay Muscat was killed by a great white shark.

In the above interview with reported Ben McCormack from A Current Affair Matt describes an eerie feeling he had before the dive.

Saying “Usually you are relaxed before a dive, I wasn’t relaxed at all. I was like, real on edge.”

During the dive Matt’s speargun broke and Jay swapped guns with him.

About that time a large group of Samson fish swam by really quickly, which was unusual as they were normally “curious fish who would stop and look at you”. He said “but they didn’t stop, they kept going and I thought…hmm that’s a bit weird”

Matt Then he spotted a snapper fish as he was about to dive down, Jay who was in front of him hit record on the GoPro camera.

As Matt started to dive down after the fish he felt a “tremendous amount of weight on his back” He said “It was liked when you were tackled in football and your head starts ringing, it was like I had been hit from behind. It pushed me under, then I just popped up and it was all what water around me.  Through the white water you could see under the water you could just see this thick, thick, thick cloud of blood.”

The white shark had come from behind the boys just as Matt dove down and bitten Jay.

Matt was unsure what had hit him, saying he thought it might have been a boat or a dolphin.

He saw the shark “hanging off” his friend who was kicking trying to “keep his had above the water”.

Jay was fighting the shark, which had bitten his leg severing his femoral artery, a fatal injury.

He let out a final “moan” before going “face down in the water”.

He said Jay would have never seen the shark coming as the shark had some “speed”.

Matt looked back and described a huge set of “jaws” coming for him.

He saw two rows of teeth with pieces of his friend’s wetsuit still in its mouth.

Matt said “In the space of the ten seconds, everything people told you comes flashes through your head.  Shoot them in the nostril, that’s the best way to stun a shark. So, I am thinking I’ve got to shoot him in the nose, cause that’s the most sensitive part of the shark.”

The shark was too quick and by the time Matt had the gun halfway up, the shark was upon him and he fired.

The speargun was in the shark’s mouth about halfway up the shaft when Matt fired.

A Current Affair animation of Matt preparing to fire at the shark
A Current Affair animation of Matt preparing to fire at the shark

The shark’s eyes rolled back and it shook its head back and forth as it while it started sinking, dragging Matt with it.

He let go of the gun and started swimming back to the surface where he saw Jay floating face down.

Matt then quickly swam 30 meters to a rocky shore.

He was able to flag some fisherman who picked up Jays body.

Matt’s father Fred said “I think he saved his own life by the fact he stayed alert, watched the shark and saw it come at him and then took the decision to fire at it. So he was very, very lucky.”

Fred also said “I can’t describe the bitter sweet feeling to me.. sitting there with my son talking to this family who are destroyed and knowing I’ve got my son… and they’ve just been to the hospital and seen their son dead. ”

While they are still having difficulties with their son’s death, Jay’s parents are thankful Matt survived the incident.

Jay’s mother Cheryl said “at the end of the day, we could have had two people pass away that day, not that I wish it on anyone else, but it was Jay not Matt.  I am just thankful we don’t have two boys that passed away.”

Ben McCormack said that what Matt and Jay’s family are upset that the shark had been seen in the area prior to the incident.

He quoted an abalone diver who described it as “a 5 m (16.4 ft) monster” and that had the boys known about the shark, they would have never entered the water.

Drum lines were set in attempt to catch the shark. Matt said that a shark “that’s attacking people should be destroyed. I think it’s just reassurance that it won’t happen again. ”

The drum lines did not catch the shark.

Michael Brown who runs aerial shark patrol in New South Wales said “Any program that involves hanging large pieces of bait off a line directly off a beach is only going to draw more sharks in. I think it’s ridiculous at best.”

He suggested there be a better warning system in place, such as giving private aircraft a dedicated radio to report sharks and bait fish.

The information would then be used to track the movements of both sharks and their food source, which would help officials make better decisions on closing beaches.

On a positive note, when asked if he would get back into the water Matt said “yeah, I don’t think anyone could stop me”


Read our  original post  of the incident here.

You can view the video on ninemsn  here

*Editors note I had some difficulties with a few words due to the Australian accents.

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