Couple encountered Great White shark believed responsible for snorkeller's death!
A British couple had what they described as a "Jaws" encounter with a great white shark yesterday when it nudged their dinghy as they fished in the same spot where an Australian man was attacked last Saturday.
Paul Vickery, originally from Somerset, said the 5-metre (16ft) shark "appeared from nowhere" while they were fishing at a Perth beach off Australia's west coast.
"It was huge. I've never seen anything so big," said Vickery. "You could see its whole body and it was bigger than our little boat."
The 46-year-old said he and his wife, Lesley, "froze with fright" as the shark lifted its head out of the water centimetres from their boat.
"It was just like [the movie] Jaws except he had his mouth closed. It actually touched the boat. If the shark had wanted to he could have headbutted us and tipped us over but luckily he didn't," said Vickery.
The incident occurred about 500 metres north of the spot where Brian Guest, 51, was believed to have been snatched by a shark on Saturday morning. Guest vanished while snorkelling for crabs with his son. Witnesses reported seeing a fin and splashing in the water before the sea turned red.
Guest's shredded wetsuit was recovered but a four-day air and sea search has failed to find his body.
In yesterday's encounter, the Vickerys had gone fishing and crabbing off Port Kennedy Beach, south of Perth.
Vickery said they usually snorkelled for crabs but yesterday chose to take out their 4-metre aluminium dinghy because his wife was nervous after the recent shark attack. "The wife didn't want to go out because of what happened to that poor man but I talked her into it," he said.
Lesley Vickery, who was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, before emigrating to Australia, said the shark bobbed up "right beside our boat" as they tended to the crab nets.
"It just appeared like a submarine would come up. We never heard or saw anything," she said. "I was petrified. It was too close for comfort. We only have a little dinghy and it was a lot bigger than it."
Her husband said "the boat lurched" when the shark touched the dinghy.
"It nudged the boat. He just came up to have a very close look and as he rolled over I heard a slap and he disappeared. It all happened so quickly."
The couple, who were about 50 metres from shore, quickly pulled up anchor. "I just turned to my husband and said: 'Get us out of here now'. I was petrified. It was frightening but over in a matter of seconds."
A fisheries department boat, which had been searching for Guest's body, came to the couple's rescue and escorted them to shore.
Swimmers were evacuated from the water and two beaches along the coastline have been closed indefinitely.
Fisheries officers spotted the shark feeding in the shallows a short time later but lost sight of it when it moved into deeper water.
A fisheries spokesman, Tony Cappelluti, said it was impossible to tell if it was the same shark that killed Guest.
Guest's family requested last weekend that authorities did not kill the shark.
Paul Vickery said he believed the shark was attracted yesterday to the smell of the burly – a mixture of fish oil and wheat product – which they had put in the water to attract fish.
"We had burlied up and had the crab nets down in the water when he came up and had a look at us."
He said the outcome could have been different if they had been snorkelling. "We swim there all the time and it's normally a really safe area. I don't want to think what could have happened."
While he is keen to go back fishing, he said his wife wouldn't be venturing out for a while.
Asked whether he thought they were lucky to escape unharmed, he said: "For sure. I'm going to buy a lottery ticket."
Paul Andrew, of Surf Lifesaving Western Australia, said people should swim at patrolled beaches where lifesavers regularly looked for sharks.