'Aggressive' Great White Shark Charges Two People Who Were Spearfishing, Takes Catch Out of Diver's Hand

Two people were charged by an "aggressive" 12-foot white shark while spearfishing yesterday in Australia, with the ocean predator seemingly lured by their catch.

The encounter occurred off Geordie Bay, Rottnest Island, at approximately 2:15 p.m. local time, according to the real-time shark reporting and alert application Dorsal, which confirmed weather conditions had been clear during the incident. It happened about 1,250 meters (0.8 miles) offshore.

After the sighting, the spearfishers said they had never been faced with such an aggressive shark, as reported by The West Australian newspaper.

"Initially I saw the tail so tried to keep an eye on it," read a comment attributed to one of the people involved, via Dorsal. "Then it came back and became really aggressive and started charging both of us.

"We used our guns as distance between us and the shark as it charged multiple times on the way back to the boat before it finally came back around.

"It took the catch bag of fish right out of my hand narrowly missing my arm. I unhooked it from myself whilst the shark was thrashing around and let him take it, got out of the water instantly.

"I've had a few encounters however the aggression on this white was much different to others we have encountered, after watching us for a minute or two he was instantly interested in our catch and kept charging us until he got it." The two spear-fishers were not named in the report.

Dorsal has been contacted for additional information.

Earlier Sunday, the Western Australia Surf Life Saving organization, which shares updates about sightings in the region to social media, said sharks had been spotted close to Geordie Bay.

A Twitter post said three sharks were observed close to Rottnest Island, about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) offshore, but did not confirm what species they were. An earlier post suggested one was a bronze whaler shark. The sightings were reported shortly before 1 p.m. local time, the post added.

UPDATE to prior report 3 x 3.0m unknown sp. sharks sighted 11:52hrs 19/01, Geordie Bay, Rottnest Island 1km offshore Reported 12:39hrs 19/01

— Surf Life Saving WA (@SLSWA) January 19, 2020

Earlier this month, rescue personnel in Western Australia said a white shark was likely linked to the death of diver Gary Johnson, who went missing off Cull Island in Esperance. Police said the victim's dive tank had been located on the sea floor but his remains were not found.

The man's wife, Karen Milligan, released a statement to Facebook which described Johnson as a "kind, gentle, strong man" and affirmed their shared anti-shark culling beliefs.

She wrote: "We were always aware of the risks, and told each other that if we were attacked by a shark, that would just be unlucky. We were completely against shark culling, and I still am." As reported, culls were introduced in Western Australia in 2014 after a rise in attacks.

There are between 760 and 2,250 adult white sharks off South and Western Australia, according to a fact sheet published by the government program SharkSmart, citing a study from 2018.

Great White Shark
Great White Sharks seasonally gather off the coast of Guadalupe Island on September 15, 2016, 150 miles off the coast of Mexico. Two people were charged by an “aggressive” 12-foot great white shark while spearfishing over the weekend off Australia's Rottnest Island. Dave J Hogan/Getty