Advertisement

Great Barrier Reef shark attack victim, 21, reveals ‘terrifying’ close call

Diver Matthew Davitt, 21, was able to escape when punching the shark after it ‘latched on’ to his arm.

The young Aussie who had a near-fatal encounter with a shark on Thursday has spoken about the “terrifying” moment even he, as a professional diver, was caught off guard by the wild animal.

Matthew Davitt, 21, was diving for sea cucumbers on the Great Barrier Reef near the remote Clack Island in Far North Queensland when he became aware of the suspected bull shark, and initially swam alongside it without any issues. However, as he dove 25 metres towards the ocean floor, he said the animal’s behaviour seemingly changed in a “split second”.

“Before I could even think, he’d done a somersault and smashed me on the arm… just going ballistic, thrashing at it,” he told 7News. “He just torpedoed towards me and just latched on.”

Matt said the attack – by a shark like the one pictured here – unfolded in a split second.
Matt said the attack – by a shark like the one pictured here – unfolded in a split second. Source: 7News

The shark inflicted deep puncture wounds to Davitt’s upper arm while the diver attempted to punch the shark in order to free himself, which he eventually succeeded at. He swam towards his boat while the water around him was like a “bloodbath”.

"I thought I was gonna die," he told the network.

His friend put on a device called a tourniquet, which applies pressure to stop blood flow, which is believed to have ultimately saved his life.

Matt's group were diving for sea cucumbers at the time. Source: 7News
Matt's group were diving for sea cucumbers at the time. Source: 7News

Diver expected to make full recovery

Davitt has encountered many shark species in his line of work such as tiger sharks and hammerheads, and these experiences have been overwhelmingly positive, however, working alongside wild animals always means such situations will be unpredictable.

Thanks to his survival instincts and the help from medical staff at Cairns Hospital – where he was airlifted to after the incident – Davitt is expected to make a full recovery. He has no reservations about getting back into the ocean to resume his work once given the all-clear from health professionals.

“This was just wrong place at the wrong time,” he said. “I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life.”

Love Australia's weird and wonderful environment? Get our new weekly newsletter showcasing the week’s best stories.

Banner reads 'What on Earth' with 'Subscribe to our new weekly newsletter' and a collage of images of australian natural wildlife.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter.