They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it would appear fear falls into a similar category after witnessing Viktor Bojovich's close encounter with a great white shark on the June long weekend.
The Forster arborist and long-time diver was spearfishing beyond the entrance to Wallis Lake on Monday, June 8 when a two-and-a-half metre great white swam within metres of him.
Far from sending him stroking wildly for the safety of his boat, he continued to dive down in the hope of spearing a jewfish from the healthy school he'd spotted swimming along the bottom.
Viktor says this decision came not so much from bravado or recklessness, but a familiarity with the creature.
"I go diving there heaps," he said.
"I've seen it about 20 times."
Viktor says the shark is generally curious but not aggressive.
"It'll just come up and have a look and then go away," he said.
However, this changed when Viktor speared a jewfish and the shark decided to pounce on an easy meal.
"Within 20 seconds of shooting the fish the shark was on it," Viktor said.
"They're alright when you don't have a fish but when you shoot a fish they get really excited."
Despite his relative comfort around the creature, Viktor says his heart rate definitely rose when he was swimming back to the surface and the shark was tearing into the fish below him.
Once he was back on the boat and he and his friend pulled in the fish, the shark continued to swim around the vessel for some time and even had a go at Viktor's float.
Wisely, Viktor didn't jump back in.
But despite the shaky encounter and the fact a surfer was killed by a great white near Kingscliff just the day before, Viktor says he isn't overly concerned at the prospect of seeing the creatures while he's diving, particularly if the water is clear.
"When it's clearer you feel safer," he said.
"When it's not real clear, that's probably when you're going to get bitten."
He believes the creatures are generally curious and uninterested in humans as food, but he also admits they've become a lot more abundant around the area in recent times.
"The last year I've only started seeing them," he said.
"Once I saw three great whites out there, but I got out."
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