The father of an eight-year-old boy who found stardom overnight when a video of him went viral has shut down critics who have suggested the shark that "attacked" his son was fake.
Manni Alam was fishing with his father Radwan Alam and a family friend at Lady Musgrave Island on the Great Barrier Reef when they captured the moment young Manni was allegedly bitten.
The video was originally shared on TikTok and showed the wetsuit-wearing boy hanging off the edge of the boat. He was showing off an impressive coral trout he'd just found in the water when a small shark appears to leap out of the water and latch onto his chest.
The footage stops just after the alleged bite occurred prompting many who saw it to ask what happened next. While some people who saw the clip expressed concern for the boy, asking if he was injured, others believe the confronting footage is a hoax. One claim made by many is that the "shark is dead" and that someone is "under the boat" pushing it towards the boy, while others disagree.
Aussie dad denies shark video is fake
Speaking about the viral video on Tuesday morning, Mr Alam told Today show hosts Karl Stefanovic and Sarah Abo it's "impossible" to have faked the footage.
"Anyone that's dived knows that it's a very common thing when you're diving," he said. "Sharks are a very, very common occurrence, especially spearfishing. You never go spearfishing without seeing sharks."
The original video, and TikTok account, appear to have been deleted following widespread attention, but the clip has been re-shared by other social media users. In a follow-up video which was seen by Yahoo News before being deleted, the poster said Manni was fine, and speaking on Tuesday, the eight-year-old said the bite "hurt a little bit on the chest but that's it".
The young diver admitted he wanted to show off the fish on TikTok and that's why family friend Moe started filming.
Expert explains shark behaviour
Speaking of the viral video, Andre Borell, Founder of Envoy Foundation, stressed to Yahoo News that humans share our waters and beaches with sharks daily, but it's important to remember they "usually stay clear" of humans.
"I’ve spent hundreds of hours in the water with sharks, and they have very little interest in you unless you have something they recognise as food," explained Borell, an expert in human-wildlife conflict and coexistence.
"Spearfishing is a higher risk category as every kill chums the water. If you try seeing sharks while scuba diving and not killing fish, it’s very difficult, as sharks are super shy."
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