SYDNEY — An Australian man has described how he escaped from the jaws of a great white shark by poking it in the eye as it dragged him under water.
Jason Cull, 37, told reporters from his hospital bed that he saw a dark shape approaching as he swam about 80 meters off the popular Middleton beach in Western Australia on Saturday.
At first he thought it was one of the dolphins he had been swimming with, but realized it was a shark as the four-meter (12-foot) monster closed in, local media reported Monday.
“It banged straight into me… and it grabbed me by the leg and dragged me under the water,” said Cull, a schoolteacher and father of two.
“I just remember being dragged backwards underwater. I felt along it, I found its eye and I poked it in the eye, and that’s when it let go.”
A volunteer at the local surf club, Joanne Lucas, 50, heard Cull’s cries for help as she arrived at the beach and immediately dived in to rescue him.
“Instinct just kicked in,” she told reporters. “I didn’t even have to think about it, which is amazing really.
“I got to him and he said, ‘Thank God. Thank you so much — a shark has attacked my leg.’
“He had huge chunks taken out of his leg, his calf and the knee,” Lucas said.
Cull underwent surgery at a regional hospital and doctors said he was expected to make a full recovery.
Middleton beach remained closed Monday as at least three great white sharks cruised offshore, avoiding efforts to herd them away, fisheries officials said.
A teenaged surfer was killed in a shark attack last month, bringing the death toll in Australia since 2000 to 12, according to the U.S.-based International Shark Attack File.