Close Encounters Man vs. Nature

Diver bitten while trying to rescue blacktip shark

South African guide attempts to cut rope that had become wrapped around shark's body, but predator does not appreciate the assistance

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You won’t find Tyler, a scuba-diving guide in South Africa, on any “Shark Week” features this week. But dramatic footage of his recent painful encounter with a blacktip shark has begun to circulate on the Web.

Tyler was bitten on the chest as he tried repeatedly to free the predator from a rope that had become wrapped around its body and dorsal fin. (The footage begins with a close-up of Tyler’s wounds; the bite occurs at 0:37.)

As viewers can tell, the shark was not visibly slowed by the rope—until Tyler grabbed onto it. Despite his good intentions, the shark became defensive and ultimately put an end to the episode by turning and nipping the guide on the chest.

“… I got back onto it, pulled myself towards it again,” Tyler says of his final rescue attempt. “I got my knife out and I was busy cutting off the rope and the shark bends over basically, and as it came over I just went back and it got onto me and just told me just to leave it alone. … It was basically irritating it, hurting its dorsal more, and the shark swam off.”

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Top and bottom images are video screen grabs

The incident occurred off South Africa’s eastern shore, near a feeding drum used to attract marine life. The video was uploaded last month by SA TV, but it received little exposure until this week, when a handful of digital publications posted the footage.

Blacktip sharks are found in tropical and subtropical seas around the world. They measure to about eight feet and prey on schooling fishes.

They’re not regarded as being dangerous to humans but, according to the International Shark Attack File, 28 non-lethal attacks have been attributed to blacktip sharks. (The incident involving Tyler was not an unprovoked attack, and should not be regarded as an attack.)

Blacktips are fished commercially by longliners, and their conservation status is “near threatened.”

–Hat tip to Shark Attack News

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