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August 2009    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 24, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Croc Attacks Diver in Raja Ampat: The Follow-Up

from the August, 2009 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In last month’s Flotsam section, we mentioned how a British diver on the Indonesian liveaboard SMY Ondina fought off a saltwater crocodile and survived, although with major injuries to his neck and hand that he’s still recovering from. Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock, the underwater photography duo and regular Undercurrent bloggers, were in the area when the incident happened and were able to get details from the diver, David Shem-Tov, and Ondina owner Ricardo Buxo.

“According to Ondina crew, the boat was anchored at Blue Water Mangroves in northwestern Misool when the 15-foot crocodile attacked from the surface and pulled David to the bottom. It was very shallow, so at least depth wasn’t an issue. The first bite pulled David’s regulator out of his mouth but David, an accomplished diver, had a safe second around his neck and was able to put it in his mouth while fighting back. With his other hand, he used his dive knife to gouge out one of the croc’s eyes, and it let him go.

“There was a dentist on board who did some preliminary stitching. The boat called for assistance on its satellite phone and started back to Sorong, the closet city with an airport and medical facilities, but a 15-hour cruise. They were met by a speedboat that transported David to Sorong. After enduring several surgeries in Singapore, mostly on his hand, he returned home to London.

“There was a debate on one divers forum about whether to kill the injured crocodile. Its ability to feed naturally has been compromised, and that may make it more dangerous to divers. However, kill one and another will likely harass divers. The species is protected and no one can really do anything to harm it without special permission. Regardless, most of us who have spent hours in the area, often diving alone, will take more precautions in the future, as should liveaboard divemasters and dinghy crews. The bottom line is we are entering these animals’ space. Experiencing the wild is what it’s all about, whether we’re diving with sharks, mantas or crocodiles.”

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