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Shark Attack Surviver Celebrates 50 Years

November 15, 2013 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

One of the greatest tales of survival will be celebrated next month when South Australian, Rodney Fox, celebrates 50 years since surviving one of history’s worst great white shark attacks.

While Rodney could have turned the attack into an assault on one of the most feared predators in the ocean, he instead used his experience to educate the world about great white sharks and founded the great white shark cage diving industry.

550513“There’s so much we still don’t know about this mysterious creature and I’ve made it my mission to expose the myths surrounding the shark as much as possible and educate people about sharks,” Rodney said.

Inspired by a trip to the Adelaide Zoo shortly after his attack, Rodney designed and built the world’s first shark cage, made the first ever underwater movies of great white sharks and, following the release of the Hollywood blockbuster movie JAWS (filmed with Rodney in SA), began the world’s cage diving industry, showing international tourists great white sharks underwater.

The global industry he began in Port Lincoln continues to thrive. This is the only place in the country where people can cage dive with great white sharks – no dive license necessary –  and Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions is the only company in the world offering ocean floor cage dives for scuba divers.
Today, Rodney’s company is run by his son, Andrew Fox, who was born into a life of sharks and carries on his father’s legacy welcoming global guests and conducting on-board research through the Fox Shark Research Foundation, established by Rodney, Andrew and Dr Rachel Robbins in 2002.

“It is a privilege for people to be able to observe these creatures in their natural environment and marvel at their strength and beauty. Seeing people’s reactions when they get out of the cage after seeing the sharks is so rewarding and making a difference to how these animals are perceived,” Rodney said.

On 8 December 1963 at Aldinga Beach, 45 minutes south of Adelaide, Rodney was viciously attacked around the chest by a great white shark while defending his title in the South Australian Spear Fishing Championship.

His lung was punctured, every rib in his left side broken and his abdomen, spleen and main artery from his heart were exposed. He needed 462 stitches to piece his left hand side chest back together and a further 92 in his hand which was badly lacerated with four tendons severed. He still has a piece of shark tooth embedded in his wrist.

It was in the Royal Adelaide Hospital that Rodney started to feel that there was an unnatural, unjustified fear and hatred from visitors and media reports towards the sharks.

Since his attack, he has led expeditions resulting in more than 60 feature films and documentaries on great whites. His advocacy has helped gain great white shark protection in Australian waters while he also initiated the South Australian Great White Shark Code of Conduct, which protects sharks from exploitation and has been adopted by industry.

“Since my attack, I have been determined to share what I have learnt about great white sharks  and let people know that they are not the crazy man eaters as many people think,” Rodney said.

“There’s still a lot to learn, but for people to be able to safely view them is a start. To give people a better understanding them is something I am proud of achieving.

“Sharks are a key predator at the top of the food chain and essential for keeping our oceans healthy, we have to learn to live with the sharks and not kill them from fear.”

To find out more visit www.rodneyfox.com.au

Rodney Fox’s biography, Sharks, the Sea and Me, is being released early December to mark the 50th anniversary of the attack . To find out more or order a copy visit www.rodneyfox.com.au

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