IT’S A holiday James Connelly will never forget and he’s got the video footage to prove it.
Newcastle’s Mr Connelly jumped into the Hastings River, knowingly, right beside a two-metre shark and filmed it from under water.
The grey nurse shark had been hooked by his fishing mate Paul Wicks, from Gunnedah, who was targeting jew fish at the time.
When the group of fishos realised it was in fact a shark, Mr Connelly decided it was time for a swim.
“We saw it was a shark when Paul was bringing it in so I grabbed my camera gear and jumped in,” he said. “At that stage we didn’t even know what sort it was, I just wanted to get in and see if I could get some good shots with my new camera.”
Mr Connelly swam for some time right beside the thrashing shark and at one stage he said it went right for him.
“He was still hooked up and the guys were trying to unhook him,” he said. “He turned a bit and came towards me so I put my hand out and pushed it away from me.”
It was the look the shark gave him at that point that had the snorkeller worried.
“After I pushed him away he stopped and looked right at me and opened his mouth,” he said. “I saw all those teeth and and thought ‘they’re a lot bigger than I expected’.”
It was eventually released and Mr Connelly said it calmly swam away.
That’s not the only shark the fishermen have caught.
Mr Connelly said another three-metre grey nurse was landed and was again set free.
“Each time we’ve tried to release them as quickly as possible because they are an endangered species,” he said.
The thrillseeker said he frequently visits Port Macquarie for fishing and diving but said it’s the first time he has seen a shark in the waters.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a youngster and it’s the first one we’ve ever caught or seen,” he said.