Shark attack haunts survivor

An Albany teenager who fought off a great white shark that killed his mate while diving near Cheynes beach in December says he does not know when he will feel safe enough to go back into the ocean.

Matt Pullella, 17, was spearfishing with close friend Jay Muscat at Three Stripes when a big shark attacked them, killing Jay.

Matt was able to fire his speargun into the shark's mouth and escaped unharmed, but he is struggling to fight off the memory of the killer shark.

"I don't think I'm ready to go back," he said.

"I want to be confident enough to go back into the water and relax. I don't want to be worried.

Family pays tribute to shark victim

"Even though it's really unlikely, I keep thinking it's going to happen again and I'm just waiting for it to happen."

Matt, who had worked as a commercial fisherman and had been diving most days for almost three years until the accident, described the ocean as "his life" and said he missed diving.

"(In the past) you'd look at a spot and think, 'Oh, that looks sharky', but you'd get in the water and forget about it," he said.

"Now it's real, it was always a thought, but now it's real."

Matt's father Fred said it was not only his son rocked by Jay's death but also a wider group of local teenagers.

The close-knit friends and family celebrated Jay's 18th birthday this month and scattered his ashes at sea.

When asked how he felt about his son getting back into the water, Fred Pullella said he would leave the decision to him.

"I've dived and I'm aware of that environment and how dangerous it can be, but I also know how beautiful it can be and how rewarding it can be," he said.

Jay Muscat

"I really feel sorry for him and the whole group of guys that were involved. They've all stopped diving because of what happened.

"Whether or not they go back into the water is entirely up to them - they have to deal with it."

Mr Pullella said nobody could have prevented the tragedy.

"We may not have been comfortable with some of the places they were going, but we trusted them and they have to live their life," he said.

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