PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — It was a New Year’s Day to remember for Chad Patti, after being attacked by a Mako shark while spearfishing 70 miles off Pensacola Beach. He was uninjured.
Patti has been deep sea fishing for the past three years and said he has seen two other sharks while diving, but none had attacked before.
“The first one I saw was a good 14-to-15 feet long,” Patti said. “The second one I saw was in Mississippi.”
Right at 2:50 p.m., in the afternoon on the last dive of the day, the Mako took a swipe at Patti, who was fishing for Wahoo.
“We knew that we needed to leave at 2:30 p.m., latest 3 p.m., that way we could get back before dark,” Patti said. “The [fish] were about 150 feet from me and I was waiting. I did a dive about 70 feet because I saw a Wahoo, and when I came back up, I started looking around trying to see if I could get that one last fish. I start to swim forward and get ready to ask another question and then as soon as I open my mouth the shark blindsides me.”
Patti said there have been times before when he would have sharks try to steal fish, but he said he has never had one attack him.
“I was the prey, there was no mistaken identity,” Patti said. “It’s not like he bumped me checking me out, he crushed my fin. You can see he has the fin in his mouth, and you can see his jaw and gills tense up. Later in the video you can see he still has a piece of the fin in his mouth trying to figure out if it is food or not.”
While training to dive out in the ocean, Patti said you learn what to do when or if a shark comes.
“You want to treat it like a stray dog,” Patti said. “If you take off running, a stray dog is always going to take off after you. If you see a shark, don’t take your eyes off of it. You can tell by certain shark behavior, if he starts flexing, he could get aggressive. We just never saw this one, period. We were drifting on this spot for about an hour with three guys in the water, and I just happened to be the last diver to get out. We’ve thought back on the incident to see if there was something we would do different and all we can say is dive in teams of two.”
Despite the incident, Patti said they are already “looking at next Saturday” to do it again.