Shark attack doctor stitches own leg

BITE FRIGHT: Junior doctor James Grant inspects the wetsuit he was wearing when he was attacked by a shark on Saturday.
BITE FRIGHT: Junior doctor James Grant inspects the wetsuit he was wearing when he was attacked by a shark on Saturday.

James Grant had barely caught his first fish when a shark plunged its teeth into his leg.

He had just entered the water at Garden Bay near Cosy Nook in Southland on Saturday when the next thing he knew a shark was wrapping its jaws around his leg.

And he's got the holes in his wet suit and his leg to prove it.

"It was pretty well latched on, I was just trying to get it off."

But Mr Grant, 24, a junior doctor, gave as good as he got - stabbing what he believed was a type of seven-gill shark, with his diving knife as he tried to get it to unlatch.

"I sort of just fought the shark off. The shark got a few stabs. The knife wasn't long enough though," he said.

When Mr Grant managed to get rid of the shark he tried to get the attention of his three friends, who were spearfishing just around the bay. But his mates did not take him seriously.

"I thought surely he hasn't been bitten, there's no way he has been bitten, he's got to be taking the p...," Mackley Lindsay said.

But he wasn't, instead he sat on the shore stitching his own leg.

His friends carried on fishing while Mr Grant tacked the wounds together with a needle and thread from his first-aid kit for his pig-hunting dogs.

"I'm pretty happy I had such a thick wet suit on too," he said.

Friend Jim Robins downplayed the event at the time. "He was walking so it couldn't have been that bad," he said.

However, his friends did do him a favour - taking him to the tavern in Colac Bay before the hospital.

The pub at Colac Bay served him a beer alongside a few bandages to stop his leg from dripping blood on the carpet.

"It would have been great if I had killed it because there was a fishing competition on at the Colac Bay Tavern," Mr Grant said. He received "a bit of banter" from his colleagues at Southland Hospital while they stitched him up.

"I am pretty grateful to have my leg still."

The experience had not deterred him. "When the stitches come out I will be back in the water."

Department of Conservation technical officer marine and shark specialist Clinton Duffy said, although it was difficult to tell without an accurate description, he believed the attacker was probably a broadnosed seven-gill shark.

Seven-gill sharks grew up to 3 metres long, and New Zealand was one of a few countries where they attacked humans. However, attacks by the seven-gill were relatively common around the Southland and Otago coast.


How to avoid shark attacks: Treat any shark longer than 1.5 metres as dangerous, and leave the water quickly and quietly.

Avoid swimming at dawn, dusk or at night. Sharks do most of their feeding at night.

Don't swim where seagulls or dolphins are feeding, where there are shoals of fish, where people are fishing or gutting their catch, or where there are deeper tidal channels – these all could attract sharks.

Source: Clinton Duffy

Fairfax Media