Friday, May 11, 2007

Shark attack victim goes back to shark territory!

HIS head-first escape from the jaws of a 5m great white shark was like winning the lottery 100 times over.

But Eric Nerhus is back abalone diving, convinced lightning will not strike twice.

Ignoring the protests of family and his own fears, the 40-year-old diver returned to the water three weeks ago – though he steers clear of the attack site off Eden, on the Far South Coast.

The laconic father-of-two yesterday told The Daily Telegraph he missed the water too much to stay away.
He insists he does not have a death wish. "To be taken on the bottom, going head first into a great white was a very rare occasion," he said.

"And I've learned a lesson. I won't be diving offshore in dirty water again."

Mr Nerhus was diving off Cape Howe, about 20km south of Eden, with his 15-year-old son, Mark, driving their boat, when he was grabbed head first by the 5m shark on January 23.

He was saved only by his lead-lined safety vest and his instinctive move to gouge its eye, which forced it to release him.

A shark expert who measured his wounds told him he was attacked by a white pointer more than 5m long.

At least 14 of the shark's teeth punctured his vest, leaving bite marks from the right shoulder to below the left armpit requiring 75 stitches.

Since the attack, Mr Nerhus has undergone constant physiotherapy to recover full movement of his badly damaged left shoulder.

He admits his family remain upset with his decision.

"They constantly remind me to get another job on land," he said.

"But diving and fishing are all I've done in my life. There aren't many options here and it's not really the money, I just enjoy it."

He made his first dive on April 7 and has since returned on at least six occasions. Still plagued by nightmares and night sweats, he said he occasionally relives the attack, waking "in that black hole getting crushed like a vice".


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