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WATCH: Spearfisherman Learns What Happens When You Poke Sharks

Here’s a great tip for avoiding a shark attack: Don’t poke them with spears.


Suppose you are on a routine fishing trip with your best buds and happen to notice a reef shark swimming in your vicinity. What do you do?

A) Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of marine life and watch it enjoying its natural habitat.

B) Turn your camera on and give it a nice poke with your speargun.

Australian spearfisherman Brad Vale unfortunately chose the latter while fishing for mackerel near Coral Bay, Australia, and it didn’t take long to learn the consequences.

Vale claims the 5-foot-long reef shark was circling him and then, out of nowhere, charged at him, so he reacted in self-defense and suddenly found the shark’s jaws around his body.

“He got a bit close then did a big turn at me and charged, so I gave him a poke,” Vale says. “When I poked him, he just turned back and without me noticing, I looked down and he was already chewing on my gut. I got to the surface and was going to shoot it, but I didn’t even have time to do that. He sort of latched onto my stomach and I tried to hit it with my gun in my hand but he let go pretty quick.”

The footage he caught, however, appears to tell a different story, with the attack clearly being preceded by a poke from Vale’s speargun. Take a look and see what you think:

Vale went on to say he and his fishing friends often deal with reef sharks, but they usually keep a safe distance, or swim away after a shock from their spearguns.

Being his first time attacked by a shark, and escaping with only a few punctures to his wetsuit, we'd say Vale got lucky to escape the encounter so unscathed.

But jury’s still out on whether this was an unprovoked shark attack or the unfortunate consequence of a stupid decision. All we know is we won’t be poking sharks with spearguns any time soon.

Learn about how you can help vulnerable marine animals by signing up with Oceana.

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