Sharks attack survivor now studies sharks instead of hating them
Kina Scollay knows better than most the dangers of a shark attack.
Thirteen years ago, aged 22, Scollay was diving off the coast of the Chatham Islands when he was attacked by a five-metre great white.
He had been diving for paua when he accepted a dare to dive to the seafloor 18m below. He grabbed a rock from the bottom to prove he had made it.
On his way back to the surface he was attacked. The shark's first bite hit his weight belt, and the second struck his leg.
He managed to beat the shark off with the rock and get to the surface where he was helped into the boat by his friends who administered first aid. He received extensive gashes and was flown to Christchurch Hospital for emergency surgery.
Yet Scollay refused to let the experience cower him and he has dedicated much of his time to documenting sharks, where he specialises in filming them underwater.
He has worked on the shark tagging project with NIWA and the Conservation Department, and made a documentary film describing the then unheard-of behaviour of great white sharks hunting in packs.
Now 35, Scollay does not want to talk about his attack, but wants to emphasise the low risk and the promising research being conducted into the behaviour of great whites.
"I'd hate to put a kid off swimming," he said.
"I still dive and I'm more aware of the risks than probably anyone and know a hell of a lot about white sharks - I've been working with them for twelve years ... I wouldn't dive if I thought it was unsafe and people can feel safe going swimming," he said.
"Your chances of getting attacked by a shark in New Zealand waters are absolutely bloody low no matter were you are."
Scollay said that, while many shark sightings would be a case of mistaken identity, people should be wary of certain situations.
"Obviously people should be sensible if there is a shark sighting or if there is a whale stranding or something like that, perhaps you should be careful, but other than that I think the risks are absolutely minimal for most people on most beaches."
"All the New Zealand shark attacks, including mine ... have all been in high risk places that most people will never be," he said.
Scollay said people should not be alarmed by an increase in shark sightings over summer.