The first day of the year almost became the last day of one fisherman’s life after a heart-stopping shark encounter.
Spear fisherman Chad Patti was finishing up a dive on New Year’s Day about 100km off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, when he was slammed by a 10-foot mako shark.
“It basically shoved my knee to my chest, almost knocked the wind out of me, knocked my gun out of my hand, partially flooded my mask and I did a somersault in the water,” he told the Pensacola News Journal.
Video caught on a GoPro attached to his head captured the moment the shark chomped down on Mr Patti’s fin before diving deeper.
The camera then desperately pans from the boat to the shark and back again, as the fisherman screams for help.
“The first scream, the ‘help’, I didn’t think I had a leg, honestly,” Mr Patti recalled.
“It wasn’t just a bump. I got it [the video] slowed down five times the speed and you can see the shark clearly has the fin in its mouth. You can see him crush it. It was a predatory strike from the mako. I was his prey. There was no mistaken identity. There was no fish in the water. No blood in the water.”
Friend’s heroic actions praised
Just seconds after hearing Mr Patti’s distressed cries for help, one of his friends on the boat, Josh Loucks, can be seen jumping in the water with his speargun, earning praise from viewers online.
“The bro jumping straight in what a legend,” one Instagram user wrote.
“The brave one is the guy jumping in to back you up,” another said.
“Last thing I’m doing if someone in the water reacting like that is getting in with him,” someone else said, adding a laughing emoji.
Mako sharks are known for their ambush style of attack, where they attempt to sever a fish’s tail to immobilise it before devouring it. Mr Patti believes this is what the shark was attempting to do to him.
“When it hit my fin, what it was doing was it was trying to take the motor out. Luckily the boat was there and my buddy Josh jumped in the water,” he said.
Mr Patti was thankfully uninjured in the frightening encounter, and wrote on Instagram that it was a “one in a million shark attack”. He added that he never saw a sign of a shark during the dive.
“Luckily he only took my fin and not my life. I’m very fortunate,” he said.
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