What we can learn from the man who swam five miles with a tiger shark | Philip Hoare


John Craig is just the latest person to have a terrifying encounter with a dangerous shark, only to emerge with a sense of respect and awe

The recent experience of British diver John Craig in the waters off Western Australia captures one of our worst nightmares. The dark shape looming beneath the water, getting closer. In Craig’s case, it was fear embodied in the massive 4-metre shape of a tiger shark – after the great white, the shark most notorious for attacks on humans. Yet in his terrifying 4.7-mile swim with the shark, Craig said the animal’s movements changed. After a while, it appeared to swim alongside him, almost protectively, as if steering him back to shore.

Craig was eventually picked up from the waters by the Shark Bay Volunteer Marine Rescue. It seems that his experience was transformative, if not quite Damascene. “These animals are apex predators,” he said, “but we are not on the menu. We need them in the oceans and, as much as it was scary at the time, I can only reflect on how beautiful that big female tiger shark was.”

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