INCREDIBLE photos show a great white shark circling a diver moments before he rips the flipper off his foot in a horror “test bite” moment.
Callum Stewart miraculously escaped with his life after the 3.5m great white made his attack off the coast of Martin Island in New South Wales, Australia.
The free diver was five metres below the water when he felt what he thought was a seal bump into him from behind.
“I turned around to have a look and that’s when I saw it was a shark,” said the 28-year-old, who had entered the waters off Wollongong’s Five Islands just moments before.
“It did a full 180-degree turn and came back to look at me.
“That’s probably the point I realised I might be in trouble.”
The shocked engineer said he froze in the moment, and didn’t even feel the metre-long flippers come off his feet.
“The most amazing memory I have is looking this thing dead in the eye, and wondering if that was the last thing I’m going to see,” he told the Illawarra Mercury.
“I was kind of caught up in the beauty of it.
“I realised later it had my fin in its mouth.”
His diving companion, Coralie Fleming, was even more shaken after witnessing what she though was her friend being pulled in two on their Saturday morning dive.
“It opened its massive mouth and as it’s closed its mouth it kind of ripped down as it went to swim away,” she said.
“There was one metre [missing] off Callum’s body.
“I was horrified, then I realised it was just the fin.”
Coralie, whose boyfriend Mitchell Scanlan-Boor caught the terrifying incident on camera, said she was “shocked and upset”.
“We’re just lucky that it was an investigatory bite and didn’t involve any missing limbs,” she said.
But she added: “It’s a really beautiful encounter with out of our most revered apex predator.
“It’s this really weird combination of being terrified, but also completely in awe.”
Dr Vic Peddemors, the Department of Primary Industries’ head shark researcher, said swimming in the presence of seals increased the likelihood of encountering a large shark.
He said the shark’s described behaviour indicated it was taking “a test bite”, to determine whether the divers were a food source.
“I didn’t get the impression it came hurtling at Callum,” he added.
“If it had, it would have pushed him right out of the water with a shark of that size, and it wouldn’t have just been his fin that was missing.”