|One lucky diver! Photo Credit David Armstrong|
Eric Nibald, 41, a diver who fishes for abalones, was flown to hospital with injuries to his head, body and left arm from the attack off Cape Howe, near Eden, 250 miles south of Sydney.
The shark grabbed Mr Nibald by the head, crushing his face mask and breaking his nose, said Dominic Alders, a fellow diver who saw the attack. "He was actually bitten by the head down - the shark swallowed him whole, I thought he was a goner."
Mr Alders followed the massive shark to shallower water where it became disoriented and beached itself on a shallow sand bar where Alders went for help.
Amazingly Mr Nibald was not dead but trapped in the gulper sharks expansive throat pouch unable to move and running out of air from his dive tank. He later told rescue workers that hours later and almost out of air he was able to free one arm and poked the shark in the stomach. The animal regurgitated the diver just when rescue services arrived.
Mr Nibald was pulled from the water and rushed to hospital, suffering from blood loss and shock.
"Gulper sharks are a rare deep water species with a notorious reputation for snagging unwary divers," said Dr Sarah Gomes with the Sydney Aquarium.
The massive shark was dragged to shore by rescue services teams and will be sent to the Sydney Aquarium for study later this week.
Shark attacks are relatively common in Australian waters, with an average of 15 a year. Just over one attack a year proves fatal.