|Nerhus jabbed the shark with a chisel to escape.|
Half in shark's mouth, diver survives
Lead-lined vest a life-saver, he says
SYDNEY -- A diver who was almost swallowed alive by a 10-foot-long shark said yesterday that a lead-lined vest prevented the animal from biting him in half and a chisel used for gathering shellfish allowed him to fend off the fish.
Eric Nerhus, 41, described Tuesday's terrifying attack by a shark, believed to be a great white, off the fishing town of Eden, about 250 miles south of Sydney.
Nerhus was working with his son and other divers collecting shellfish when the shark suddenly attacked him about 25 feet below the surface.
The shark grabbed Nerhus by the head, said fellow diver Dennis Luobikis, who witnessed the attack.
"Half my body was in its mouth," Nerhus told Australian television's Nine Network.
He said he fought desperately.
"I felt down to the eye socket with my two fingers and poked them into the socket," he said. "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 finally escaped the shark's jaws after jabbing at its eye with a chisel he used to chip abalone from rocks and was still holding despite the attack.
Nerhus, who estimated he spent two minutes inside the shark's mouth, said his chest was protected from the shark's rows of teeth by a lead-lined vest used to weight him down in the water.
He was helped into his boat by his son and was treated for severe cuts to his head, torso, and arm.