Terror as sharks circle stranded fishermen
One of the two Australian men who became stranded in the middle of the ocean when they drifted away from their boat while they were in the water has shared the story of their terrifying ordeal.
Trevor Ketchion and Dylan Briggs were spearfishing off the coast of Tweed Heads in northern NSW earlier this year when a strong current caused Mr Briggs' dad, who was driving the boat, to lose sight of them.
Dramatic footage shared by Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter captured the moment the pair resurfaced to find they were alone in the open ocean with nothing but their fishing equipment.
"[Dylan's] father had lost track of where we were and we got separated," Mr Ketchion said.
"For the first half-hour or so we tried to swim back up the current to get back to the boat but that wasn't very effective."
Another method they used was to take one of their fins off, put it on their spear gun and wave it high in the area to try and attract attention.
"That didn't work and also when you do that, you're swimming a bit erratically and erratic swimming attracts certain creatures that you don't usually want to attract in those situations," Mr Ketchion said.
Their attempts at signalling the driver were unsuccessful, but the movement did get them noticed by something else.
In the video, one of the men looks into the water to see a giant great white shark circling below them.
"Shark! There's a shark!" one of the men can be heard yelling.
Mr Ketchion said splashing around in the water while trying to get help made them "look like a weak prey animal".
And it wasn't just one shark that had been attracted, there were multiple great whites starting to surround the pair.
By this time a Westpac Rescue Helicopter was out scanning the area and while the men could see the chopper, the people inside couldn't see them and were getting further away from where they were.
By this time the men had been stranded for about three hours and fatigue was setting in.
Thankfully, a second helicopter flew over and they were able to get its attention.
"When they first came very close to where we were it was quite an uplifting feeling and definitely took a lot of the stress off," Mr Ketchion said.
"It was a very large sense of relief."
Rescuers winched the two men to safety, away from the circling sharks.
Mr Ketchion said that without the quick actions of the Westpac Rescue team they probably wouldn't have survived the ordeal.