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Diver recounts scary brush with tiger shark off Yokohama Bay

By Sarah Zoellick

LAST UPDATED: 12:51 a.m. HST, Sep 4, 2012

Cheyne Settlemire said he slept well Sunday night despite nearly being attacked by a tiger shark earlier in the day. 

“I woke up, there was birds singing,” Settlemire said Monday, relieved to be alive. “Everything was all good.”

His encounter 300 yards off Yokohama Bay on the Waianae Coast prompted lifeguards to close the beach to swimmers for four hours and notify other divers in the area of the incident.

Settlemire, a 27-year-old free diver, recalled the scare Monday at a news conference arranged by the city Emergency Services Department at the Yokohama Bay lifeguard tower.

He said he first noticed the 13-foot tiger shark Sunday afternoon when it started chomping on his dive buoy. The shark was about 10 feet behind him. 

Settlemire said the shark was about as wide as an all-terrain vehicle or a large refrigerator, and it appeared to be going after a 2-pound fish he had tied to the buoy about an hour before. He said it couldn’t get the fish in its mouth.

“That was when he started coming after me, because he realized, ‘OK, this guy’s gotta be food,’” he said.

Settlemire said the shark swam a 50-foot circle around him before it headed straight toward him and came within a foot or two of the tip of his spear. He pulled the trigger of his bang stick, but the charge was a dud.

“I kind of started backpedaling, backpedaling, basically it took me like about 15 or 20 minutes swimming backwards,” he said. “He (the shark) finally stopped following me about maybe 50 yards offshore.”

Settlemire said he threw himself onto the beach and ran to the nearest group of people to call 911.

“I was super stoked at the lifeguard response,” he said. “It was like five minutes and my friend was on board (the rescue craft).”

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