Diver who was swallowed head first by great white shark describes horrifying moment he was being ‘eaten alive’
| Last updated
A diver who was swallowed head first by a great white shark managed to get free thanks to two things, saying he was literally being 'eaten alive' before he escaped.
Eric Nerhus, from Eden – a coastal town in New South Wales, Australia – was out collecting shellfish with his son and other workers in 2007 when he was suddenly attacked by a shark, having not seen it approach thanks to poor visibility in the water.
The 10ft beast grabbed Nerhus by the head and clamped down, with the diver saying he spent an estimated two minutes inside the shark’s mouth.
Thankfully, he was protected from the animal’s razor sharp teeth by the lead-lined vest he wore to weigh him down in the water while working.
Nerhus used the chisel he used to collect abalone from rocks to jab at the shark’s eye, and eventually wrestled free to swim to the surface – surrounded by a cloud of his own blood.
Speaking to Nine Network at the time, he said: "Half my body was in its mouth. I felt down to the eye socket with my two fingers and poked them into the socket.
"The shark reacted by opening its mouth and I just tried to wriggle out. It was still trying to bite me. It crushed my goggles into my nose and they fell into its mouth."
He added: "I’ve never felt fear in my life like what I felt in the jaws of that white pointer.
“I went straight into its mouth, front onwards. Half my body was in its throat. It was like being in a dark cave.”
While Nerhus was free, he feared the shark would attack again as he tried to clamber to safety.
"It was just circling around my flippers, round in round in tight circles," he continued.
"The big round black eye, 5 inches wide, was staring straight into my face with just not one hint of fear, of any boat, or any human, or any other animal in the sea."
After being helped onto the boat by his son, Nerhus was rushed to hospital to be treated for severe cuts to his head, torso and arm.
After airlifting Nerhus to hospital, a spokesperson for Snowy Hydro SouthCare rescue service told Reuters: "He stated that he was head-first into the shark.
"When he came to us he was conscious and alert but had a broken nose and lacerations to both sides of his torso and chest - bite marks all the way around."
Nerhus’ co-worker, Dennis Luobikis, told the news agency that the shark bit his friend around the head first, crushing his mask and breaking his nose.
"He was actually bitten by the head ... the shark swallowed his head," Luobikis said, adding that the shark then took a second bite, gripping its jaw around the torso.
"The brunt of the bite was taken by his lead weight vest. It's all over your torso. Eric said to me at the wharf that his weight vest saved him."
Nerhus was incredibly to make it out alive, having felt he was going to die.
The Sun quoted him as saying: "I started to get shaken horizontally with a really hard threshing motion. I thought 'is this the end, is this what is like to die'.
"I was actually being eaten alive."
Luobikis praised his ‘tough’ pal for managing to get away, explaining how he used the chisel to attack the shark’s head to break free.
"He pushed his abalone chisel into the shark's head while it was biting, and it let him go and swam away," he told Reuters.
"Eric is a tough boy - he's super fit. But I would say that would test anyone's resolve, being a fish lunch."