Spearfisherman Adam Haling, 31, from Perth, was bitten by a reef shark at Gnaraloo, off the coast of Western Australia on August 16. He had just speared a fish in 8 feet of water when the shark rammed his face removing his mask. He told News Corp Australia
“I can remember it being right on my face, seeing the front of its mouth on my face, its top jaw hit my mask, and the bottom jaw hit underneath my chin. As it came down it ripped my mask.”
He was holding the wound on his neck as he watched as the shark circled him.
“I saw the fin do a big arc, and I thought, oh no…Surely the shark realizes that I have dropped the fish. It was a bit like Jaws, It then took the fish I had and it was gone. I think it was chasing the fish I had in my hand, and at the last minute it hit me instead the fish.”
After the shark swam away Mr. Hailing’s first priority was his friend Slocombe and himself out of the water.
“I was still holding my face together when I got Mick’s attention, and realized my whole body was covered in blood, and that I was in real danger with the amount of blood I was losing,” he said.
After they left the water Mr. Hailing started running back to the car, but started to feel woozy from the loss of blood.
“I then had to walk back to the car, I could feel my face was really loose, there was flapping skin, I knew it was an emergency. I realized I was really light in the head, I thought I’m in trouble here I might not make it to the car, I was thinking s**t, this could be it,“ he said.
Slocombe drove Mr. Hailing to a nearby camp site where The Royal Flying Doctor’s Service and ambulance were contacted. Luckily two doctors were on vacation and were able to offer aid.
Thankfully his jugular vein and carotid artery were not torn which Mr. Hailing attributes to his mask.
“My mask absolutely saved me, if the shark had hit me any lower, it would’ve taken my jugular out, and if it had of torn sideways it would have been all over,” he said.
Due to the remote location of the incident, it took around 10 hours before Mr. Hailing made it to the hospital. He was stitched up and should recover with minimal scaring.
“The ocean is a big part of my life, I’ve always understood and accepted the risks, and I don’t think the attack will deter me at all, it’ll probably make me do things differently in the water if I am spearfishing. Surely I can’t get bitten twice!”