National Geographic: The Fox and the Shark


December 8, 1963 a day like any other.

At Alldinga Beach,

the annual South Australian

spearfishing championships

are set to begin.

a life insurance

salesman from Adelaide,

and former champion,

takes to the water.

He sets his sights on

a large reef fish.

Little does he know that

he himself is being stalked...

By a great white shark.

Through a series of near miracles,

Rodney Fox arrives at Royal Adelaide

Hospital in under an hour.

The vascular surgeon there

has just returned

from an international conference

with the very latest

in surgical techniques.

They go to work on the mutilated body

delivered to the operating theater.

The shark has punctured his left lung,

left clavicle, and diaphragm.

The jaws have bitten

through all his ribs,

gouged skin and muscle

from his left side,

and exposed several major organs.

According to one surgeon,

had Rodney arrived five minutes later,

he would have bled to death.

Sewn back together with

over 450 stitches,

he lies bedridden for

two months with the pain,

and the awful memory.

Do you hope to continue

skindiving one day?

I'll get in the water

somewhere sometime,

but I don't know whether I'll go

in this gulf here where

there's been two or three

attacks in the last few years.

That was Rodney Fox then...

And this is Rodney Fox now.

Seldom has a single event so

radically transformed a person.

I n a way,

the great white shark that attacked him

but gave him another.

I n three decades, Rodney Fox

has grown from a fearful shark victim

into a shark champion and protector.

I think that sharks

and the shark world is

really beautiful and interesting.

The shark gets a raw deal,

and people just hate it

because they don't understand

and they fear it.

I love to see them flying and

gliding through the water,

and I think that most people

would really enjoy it too,

if the realized they weren't

going to be eaten alive.

This from a man who was

himself nearly eaten alive.

Rodney's life since the attack

has been a continuous challenge

to overcome his fear by facing it.

Today, documentary filmmakers

and marine scientists

from all over the world

travel to Australia to go

looking for sharks with Rodney.

His knowledge of living

sharks is unparalleled.

Marine biologist Eugenie Clark

People who hear about

Rodney's shark attack go,

wow, he's an ordinary man like

one of us

and yet

he's had such a terrible experience,

and on top of that,

he's telling us that

sharks aren't dangerous,

they're good, we should preserve them.

So this is what's so

wonderful about Rodney,

the someone who suffered through such

a terrible incident

can now defend the animal

that attacked him.

It wasn't always that way.

Reliving the shark attack story

has been a continuous epic in my life.

So many people want

to hear how I survived,

how I stuck my fingers

in the shark's eyes,

how I put my arm around it

so it wouldn't bite,

and how I went up to the

surface and it followed me.

And after about eight or nine

years of telling the story,

I read the original

Readers' Digest First Person Award the

I had written immediately afterwards,

and I found that I had

changed the story a little.

I was telling people

what they wanted to hear,

and not necessarily the truth.

Time often affects memory.

Here the story is only two days old,

and not nearly so heroic.

All I remember is this big thing

pushing me through the water,

and it seemed to let go a bit

when I pushed my hand up at it,

and it still wouldn't let go.

The pressure of the water might

have been holding me in his mouth.

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "National Geographic: The Fox and the Shark" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 Jun 2021. <>.

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