Diver attacked by shark in the Bay of
from the Canadian Press
Daniel MacDonald was diving in the dark frigid waters of the Bay of Fundy,
hunting for crustaceans, when he felt a heavy thump on his
The veteran sea urchin diver turned to find himself
face-to-face with a three-metre-long shark, which immediately latched on to Mr.
MacDonald's fishing bag loaded with the prickly
For 15 panic-filled minutes, Mr. MacDonald
struggled 16 metres below the surface with the angry shark that began dragging
him out to sea.
"When he took off, it locked my fingers
in the bag and I was bouncing off the side of the shark," Mr. MacDonald said
Thursday, two days after the attack. He was returning to the wharf in Digby,
N.S. for another day of diving.
"He was shaking the bag
and after he shook it up a couple times, he darted off."
Mr. MacDonald, 30, said the shark - about the length of a car - then opened its
jaws, releasing the bag, and circled back for another
"When he stopped, I laid on my back ... and swam
to shore backwards and he kept hovering around me, darting back and forth at
me. I was just thinking '[Get to] shore."'
MacDonald, who was wearing a drysuit and gloves during the Tuesday attack, said
he kept the shark at bay by repeatedly hitting it with his fishing bag. It
eventually swam off in the frigid water.
who was unharmed except for some "stiff fingers," quickly swam about 60, metres
to the shore, where the captain of his boat picked him
"Well he was kinda scared, that's for sure," said
Derrick Farstad, skipper of the fishing boat. "He took the rest of the day
Mr. MacDonald, who now laughs about the encounter,
said he went home and told his wife about the shark, but decided to got back to
work the next day.
"I had the jitters but I dove for two
to three hours," said Mr. MacDonald, who's been catching the spherical,
spiny-shelled urchins for the past 10 years.
urchins, considered a succulent delicacy, are exported to restaurants along the
"It's like anything, you fall off a
horse and you get back on. This is my living."
MacDonald telephoned a marine biologist in Halifax, who told him the shark was
likely a porbeagle, a normally harmless coldwater fish common to the
Dr. Stephen Turnbull , a marine biologist at the
University of New Brunswick Saint John said a fisherman caught a porbeagle 32
kilometres (20 miles) off Saint John Harbour last year. A sighting was reported
off the coast of Mispec and another found in the Petitcodiac River near Moncton
a few years ago. Curiosity will bring them to the surface, but very rarely, Dr.
"I've known people who have been on [New
Brunswick] waters for years and have never seen one on the surface," he
Porbeagles, also known as mackerel sharks, weigh 75
kilograms on average and grow to about 2.5 metres. They are dark blue to black
with a white tip on one of their fins and a pointed
Word of the unusual attack spread quickly through
the diving community. Several scientists and divers said they had never heard
of a shark attacking a diver and that even incidents of sharks approaching
divers are extremely uncommon in the region.
are rare " said Chris Harvey-Clark, a marine biologist and veterinarian at
Dalhousie University in Halifax.
"You have to go out and
spend a lot of time and money to find a shark up here. They're out there, but
they don't as a rule come close to shore.
"This is an
Jason Weickert, a diver at Torpedo Rays Scuba Adventures
in Halifax, said he couldn't recall any other attacks.
"It's unbelievably uncommon," said Mr. Weickert. "I have over 1,000 dives in
Nova Scotia and I have yet to see a shark. That's probably the first encounter
a diver has had with a shark."
Mr. Farstad and Mr.
MacDonald suspected the shark was attracted to the area because fishermen had
just dropped lobster pots full of fresh bait nearby.
Harvey-Clark said the attack is surprising, but added that divers and marine
biologists have reported a number of strange occurrences in the waters off Nova
Scotia in recent months.
The water temperature is get
warmer and sharks are staying north longer than usual. There have also been
sightings of tropical creatures, such as an octopus and an electric ray
normally seen around Cape Cod, Mass.
"We're seeing some
pretty weird things up here," said Mr. Harvey Clark.
story was from the Telegraph Journal's, Friday, December 8, 2000