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Old 08-02-2009, 02:32 PM   #1
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Exclamation Bull Shark attacked us.... News gets details wrong

Well, I finnaly found my password... have just been reading for the last 4 years. Rob Murphy did post some of my videos a couple weeks ago though.

Well, we went to Green Turtle Cay for a 9 day dive trip, with a little fishing thrown in. Thursday (JULY 30) Dale and Derek Mitchel flew over for the last 4 days. They are my friends and neighbors and we fish and dive together.

Thursday, we went to Spanish Cay and dove small coral heads and hard bottom. It is all Freediving and no guns. I shot a nice hog and grouper (will link pics soon.. just wanted to get info out before more misinformation)

We shot 8 fish that day, ran away from some thunderstorms and had lunch and got into some Tuna on the way home. Ate a fantastic meal of Blackfin Tuna Sashimi and fresh fish.

The next day I offered to take my divers anywhere.... the only thing I wanted after a long dive trip was to spend an hour freediving deeper water in 60' looking for bigger stuff. The rest of the crew wanted to go back to Spanish Cay since the diving was so clear, shallow and productive.

We headed out after iceing and gearing up at the crack of 10:00 am
Hit the water at 10:45 ish and shortly had a few fish in the boat.

Before I detail the shark attack, let me tell you how we dive. This trip my Brother and I brought our Dad and we marked the 30th anniversary of our Dad taking us to the Abacos. We have always practiced safe spearfishing to avoid sharks and baraccudas and this trip was no exception.

I have to say that I always told myself, possibly nievely, that this happened only to unsafe spearos. We don't anchor and the driver keeps the boat nearby. Before and after we shoot a fish the spearo and his partners look for sharks. We don't let our divers get separated, although it does sometimes happen. Immediately after controlling the fish, we hold it out of the water and the driver puts it in the boat. After we shoot a few fish in one area we move on. If we see a shark, even if its not aggressive, and even if it is small, we move on. We can actually end up getting in and out of the boat times a day..... that is how often we move spots. We did all these things this day. There was only one time my divers got separated and when I picked them up I asked them to stay closer together and follow my Brother, Josh, as he was the most experienced diver in the water besides our Dad. Dad had done enough spearing and was taking underwater pics and vidoes. Then it happened...

I spotted a group of three small heads (maybe 10' square). On the second head, Josh slinged a mutton snapper but it got off. Derek (Dale's 14year old son) called me to get the fish, then said, wait, it gott off. Seconds later he called me back, Josh had speared it again. Josh held the ENTIRE fish out of the water and I picked it up.

Out of the other side of the hole that the mutton had tried to hide in a Hog came out and Josh hit it high on the forehead. The spear ripped out and the hog bolted for a hole. Derek went down and spotted it and pointed out where it was to Josh and Dale. Dad's camera got bumped to photo instead of video and he got a picture of Josh pulling back his sling to get the hog in the hole. (man, we wish we had video of this). Then dad dove down and took a close) up of the reef and some small fish. While he was down, Josh was comming up with the hog. Unbeknownst to them, a 7 foot bull shark flew in out of knowwhere and did a close pass at Derek. The water was perfectly clear.... probably 100' visibily and it was only 15 feet deep. The only person to see the pass was Dale and possibly Derek. Dale hauled ass to close the 10' space to his son, but the bull beat him there.

Dale recalls seeing the bull "mouth" Derek's lower calf twice and turn him in the water and let go. Dale craddled his son in his arms and pointed his pole spear at the bull. The shark came in again and Dale poked it in the nose with his spear. At that the shark backed off.

By then, I had 3 divers SCREAMING for me and was already comming over. Dad still didn't know Derek had been bit and took another picture (he thought he was videoing the shark... damn). I did not know anyone was hit and reved the engine in front of them to scare the shark. Dale screamed "Throw me a line" because I was going by them. Derek, who didn't know he had been bit at first and just thought he got bumbed, by now had seen the blood and was using his hands to swimm to the boat. He said, "I got bit." Honestly, Derek was the calmest person throughout this entire ordeal. With my adrenalin in full gear I grabbed both his wrists and pulled the 140 lb young man out of the water like a kitten.

Thats when I saw the biggest wound. His lower calf, I am estimating 7 inches long, was ripped back and only attched on one side. It was gorey. I helped him to the front of the 22' angler onto one of the front benches, where he laid on his stomach. Dale must have flown over the gunnel himself, because he was right there and started compression. Frankly, he was just holding the meat in place with pressure. We wrapped on dive shirts and towels. My Dad got in the boat and realised that Derek had been bit.

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Old 08-02-2009, 02:33 PM   #2
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Re: Bull Shark attacked us.... News gets details wrong

During this time, Josh was dealing with the shark. After Dale poked it, the bull turned his attention to Josh and the Fish. (this is all happening within seconds mind you). The shark came so fast that Josh didn't have time to take the fish off his spear and he just dropped the fish, spear and all for the shark to go after. Amazingly, the shark didn't go for the hog, and the hog got off the spear and went in the head. Josh saw the shark go by Derek, but didn't know it had bit him untill he saw the blood. He watched Dale hold and defend his son. As I father, I can only imagine how he felt. Josh remembers seeing the Bull in aggressive posture... pectoral fins down and back arched.

So the shark ignored the wounded hog and kept comming for my bro.. who's spear was on the bottom. He took his white hawaiian sling that he has used for 15 or more years and threw it at the shark. The shard turned and circled the sling to investigate what it was. It bought them some critical time.

Now, I think this is coinsideing with me getting there in the boat and getting Derek in. The shark backed off some, we think, as I got there. You have to realise the difficulty in keeping your face in the water to see what the shark is doing and at the same time, yell for help and get to the boat.

By the time Dad got in and Josh was about to, the shark circled him again. He wasn't on the side of the ladder and yelled for me to help pull him in. Dad and I jumped to the starboard side of the stern and pulled Josh in between the Outboard and notched transome. Josh yelled, he's circling me.

I grabbed the radio and called Mayday. I cursed and focused my attention on the situation. Dale held compression. Spanish Cay marina responded and called me to their port. We were there in 10 minutes, but it felt like forever. The staff at Spanish were remarkable and the dock master jumped in to help. He brought a sheet and I made a tournakit at the popliteal fossa. Despite the initial blood in the boat, the wound did not appear to be bleeding as much as it looked like it would.

Spanish Cay arranged an ambulance to pick us up at Cooperstown on Abaco and transport Derek to Treasure Cay. I bolted for Coopers with the guy from spanish directing the way. The ride to Coopers was probably 10 or 15 minutes but it sure is hard to tell time in those situations. Dad got the video working and filmed us. Derek was beyond brave. He never screamed, cursed or yelled. He was the calmes of us all. He attitute was more of a "this sucks" than scared. On the way to coopers, I noticed the white dressing was not turning red, just pink.... blood loss was being controlled (whew).

Hearing our mayday, a general surgeon Dr.Beaty brought his boat and family to Coopers to help. He triaged the scene while we waitied for the ambulance. Hats off to this kind surgeon from Stuart, Fl.

Dad and Josh took care of our boat and brought it back, I rode up front in the ambulance, Dale was in the back with his son.

The VOLUNTEER paramedics triaged, redressed the wound with a pressure dressing and started IV's. We tore off to the Corbett Medical Center where John Shedd, MD, FACEP took care of Derek. Dr. Shedd spend 20 years at Halifax trauma center in Daytona Beach, FL and was a godsend. The Abacos are fortunate to have such a skilled physician who can do general medicine AND trauma.

Dr. Shedd quickly found that no arteries were hit and that Derek was Stable. He gave him some morphine and special marine organism fighting antibiotics and finished the IV bag. They arranged for an air ambulance to fly the father and son to WPBCH.

I contacted my close friend Dr. Chaim Arlosoroff who practices Orthopaedic Trauma at St.Mary's hospital in WPBch. He called Dr. Mike West of General Trauma and they prepped for Derek to arrive. Karen (RNP) from Trauma helped Dale coordiante the carrival. They were so prepared, that Derek was in Surgery in less than an hour and had Dr. West, Dr.Cooney (ortho) and DR. Austin (plastics) all ready to go.

Dad, Josh and I cut our trip short a day, cause we just didn't feel like going out for fun, and came back last night (saturday, aug 1). I Stopped by and saw Derek at St. Mary's on the way home. And brought some serviche.

Good news is that Derek did not have any arteries torn and that tendon and nerve damage was minimal and repairable as far as we know at this time. It looks like he will make a full recovery and have quite a story to tell.

Thanks go out to all the ppl that helped including Collin the paramedic and Patty, the nurse (who are engaged to eachother, by the way).

Here is a link to the story on Channel 5 news, notice how they get parts of the story wrong (7 pound bull shark, haha.. is that a premie?). some of the video from the trip is there and pictures. They put in some of my video of the 55 lb black grouper I speared a few weeks ago too.


While we have all discussed the events, I will edit this as needed if we recall other things.

Matt Bailey, LPO, FAAOP

Last edited by Native Diver; 08-02-2009 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 08-02-2009, 02:56 PM   #3
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Re: Bull Shark attacked us.... News gets details wrong

wow, this was this july? the story that was just on the news? (link doesn't work ) I got the impression from the news that an adult was attacked not a 14 year old kid. what a traumatic experience especially for one so young. I hope he makes a 100% recovery. Sounds like a perfect rescue and kudos for its execution. Dirty bull new he was going for the smallest diver also, I believe this has happened in other situations. Thanks for posting the story it is a great reminder we should all stay together in the water.
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Old 08-02-2009, 02:57 PM   #4
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Re: Bull Shark attacked us.... News gets details wrong

Holy crap dude.!!! What a story... Im glad everything turned out ok and that everyone made it home...
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Old 08-02-2009, 02:58 PM   #5
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Re: Bull Shark attacked us.... News gets details wrong

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Old 08-02-2009, 03:11 PM   #6
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Re: Bull Shark attacked us.... News gets details wrong

Thats crazy... Hats off to all the medical personel that responded to the call of duty. Best wishes and a speedy recovery to the young guy.
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Old 08-02-2009, 03:25 PM   #7
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Re: Bull Shark attacked us.... News gets details wrong

Intense..Speedy recovery to the young man that had been bitten. It appears as if all reasonable precautions were taken. What would you have done differently if anything?
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Old 08-02-2009, 03:37 PM   #8
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Re: Bull Shark attacked us.... News gets details wrong

Sorry link doesn't work.... hmm let me try again...


or you can search for WPB channel 5 news and go to local.... shark attack.

This happened to us July 31st, last friday, the day before yesterday.

We are talking about what we would do differently, and I will follow up with that.

Thanks for the kind words.
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Old 08-02-2009, 03:48 PM   #9
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Re: Bull Shark attacked us.... News gets details wrong

Yes, TheMackDaddy, there was an adult attacked in the Bahamas also, just few weeks ago, I heard one diver shot a Bull coming towards him and the Bull turned on his dive buddy and bit him on the leg.

A friend of ours has made couple trips recently to the Walkers and rented a Shark Shield for his free diving. I also dive with a Freedom 7 and like it.

Im so glad youre ok Derek and speedy recovery to you. Spearit
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Old 08-02-2009, 03:49 PM   #10
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Re: Bull Shark attacked us.... News gets details wrong

MAN thats send chills down my back , been wathing Shark Week on Discovery channel alll day and to see this I hope he's ok
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Old 08-02-2009, 03:50 PM   #11
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Re: Bull Shark attacked us.... News gets details wrong

Thanks for tellign your side of the story. Whats amazing to me is that I was spearing in the exact same area a few months ago.... Saw only one bull but plenty of reefies. Glad everyone is safe and nothing more serious happened.
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Old 08-02-2009, 03:55 PM   #12
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Re: Bull Shark attacked us.... News gets details wrong

Wow...that sounds like a nightmare..... I hate those sharks in the Bahamas... I have only had two bad shark experiences...both at Walker's.
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Old 08-02-2009, 04:10 PM   #13
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Re: Bull Shark attacked us.... News gets details wrong

that is an amazing sotry and I am glad he is goiing to make a full recovery. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 08-02-2009, 04:15 PM   #14
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Re: Bull Shark attacked us.... News gets details wrong

I"ve been to Spanish several times. One of my favorite places but the sharks are verry agressive! Had one make a pass at a hog while surfacing, he came bsck and crushed it off the pole spear all the time it took to surface from 40ft. I was lucky he was zeroed in on the fish.
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Old 08-02-2009, 04:20 PM   #15
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Re: Bull Shark attacked us.... News gets details wrong

Wow thanks for the story. Hope the kid makes a full recovery, sounds like you saved his life with the first aid.

With regard to the part about the diver deliberately dropping the fish and shaft as the shark came too close..only to watch the shark ignore the injured fish and continue to approach and to confront the diver.. Very scary, so many people will repeat the same old mantra that "the shark is just after your fish". I think when they get really turned on they don't know what they are after.

I had something very similar happen to me in the Bahamas. I had two reef sharks come in hot and heavy for the mutton hanging beneath me on the end of my Hawaiin shaft as I ascended from 30 feet. They were on the fish so fast, i figured it was a lost cause and simply dropped the shaft and continued my ascent, assuming the sharks would eat the strugglng fish caught on the flopper as the shaft fell. Instead the two small sharks (3 and 5 feet?) swam vertically right past the fish and were in my face in an instant. I was punching them in the head (and I wasn't reaching out to hit them) as I frantically tried to reach the surface with all my parts.

The sharks then turned around, ate the fish and after I cleaned my shorts, I went down and picked up the shaft 3 minutes later as the two sharks kept their distance. I was diving alone during that incident, but I certainly can understand how someone can get bit, even when you are diving as a group and seemingly following all resonable precautions.
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