A diver whose dad was savaged to death in a shark attack has encountered eight of the animals in a feeding frenzy around a whale carcass - but says it hasn't put him off going in the water.
New Zealand father-of-two Barry Watkins, 47, was just five years old when his dad John Leith died on a beach in Te Kaha near Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty in 1976 after a bronze whaler ripped off his leg while he was spearfishing.
But the diving instructor insists he wasn't scared as he filmed eight huge tiger sharks, the largest 5m - off the coast of Garden Island in Western Australia, according to the Daily Mail.
Instead, the power station controller who now lives in Perth, WA, said he felt privileged to witness the ocean predators feed on the body of the dead whale.
Watkins, who grew up in Tokoroa in New Zealand's North Island, said: "We were cruising along and I saw a white-coloured structure in the water about 100m in front of me.
"At first I thought it was a partially submerged hull, but as we got closer I realised it was part of a whale.
"When I saw the sharks, I thought 'wow'."
He filmed the footage around midday last Sunday when he ventured out to check his crayfish pots with his wife Michelle and his brother-in-law.
The trio were approximately 15km from the shore and about 5km from Garden Island when they witnessed the spectacle and spent about 15 minutes watching.
Watkins said there were about eight tiger sharks of various sizes, with the biggest almost as long as his 5.4 metre boat.
"They weren't being aggressive but were grazing and coming up and taking bites," he said.
"My wife was absolutely terrified - she would not stand too close to the edge of the boat. "I wasn't scared, I was just enjoying the sight really. I have never seen anything like that before. I felt very privileged to be able to film it." Watkins said he did not feel any "animosity" towards the animals and was not angry with them despite his history. "As a dive instructor I have never worried about sharks but I definitely did feel a lot safer in the boat,'" he said.
"Looking at the way they bit that meat I realised those teeth would definitely tear human flesh to pieces." Watkin's father John was just 27 when he was bitten in January 1976 while spearfishing, with the event marking one of a only a handful of fatal shark attacks ever recorded in New Zealand waters. Watkins added: "I was only 5 when my dad was killed - I was on the beach and I remember my mum crying. "Some people think sharks should be culled and if there is one regularly attacking people that has developed a taste for human blood then it has got to go, but how do you know which one it is? "While we watched them I was more concerned about them damaging the boat's motor by chewing it."
The fatal shark attack
Thirty-seven years ago, Trevor Watkins watched a shark attack his best friend. Watkins tried to save John Leith, but his wounds were too bad and he died inWatkins' arms. The pair and Watkins' older brother Grahame, all from Tokoroa, were spearfishing from a dinghy one afternoon off Te Kaha. They were about 150m offshore in water about 4m deep. "I heard him scream and I looked over to him and he was waving his arms. I swam over to him and the water was thick with blood and I knew something had happened," Watkins said.
"I knew it was probably dangerous to go over there, but you'd do anything for your mates, wouldn't you? "I held him out of the water until my brother brought the boat over. We put him in the boat and I tried to revive him and stop the blood. He'd been bitten right up in the groin. He'd been bitten a couple of times. "I brought him back to life a couple of times, but by the time we'd gotten back to the rocks, he'd died." Watkins has no idea what type of shark bit his best friend, he couldn't see any sign of it by the time he reached him in the water and was too busy trying to keep Leith alive to look when they were in the boat. Watkins, in his early 20s at the time, said Leith, 27, was his best mate and his death hit him hard. "It was quite traumatic. I couldn't sleep for a few weeks. "We were great mates, we worked together and everything. It affected me a lot when he died. It took a while to get over it. "But in life, things happen," Watkins said. "But I can say that now because it was a long time ago." Leith left behind a wife, Lynn, and two young children, Barry and Sharon.
About a year and a half after Leith died, Watkins and Mrs Leith started to grow close. "I didn't really know her. Me and John were just mates, we hunted together, fished together. And then about a year and a half later I started seeing her and it all happened. We married about five years later. "I brought his two kids up and we had one of our own." The marriage ended about nine years ago. Watkins now works at the Kinleith Mill and still lives in Tokoroa with his new partner, Rita Van Houtun. And, even 37 years on, Watkins hasn't dived since that day in January. "I tried about six months after it happened, but I couldn't do it." Grahame Watkins, who lives in Waihi, also hasn't been able to dive since Leith's death. But Watkins said: "I'm not putting anything against sharks. "The way I look at it is, we're swimming in their domain and if you want to swim in their domain then things like that happen. I don't think sharks are really that bad."
- additional reporting NZ Herald