Local News

Raleigh man's video of 'nerve-wracking' shark encounter goes viral

Posted March 18, 2014
Updated March 19, 2014

Courtesy of Jason Dimitri

— A Raleigh man had an unbelievably close encounter with a shark last week in the Cayman Islands – and it was all caught on video.

Jason Dimitri says he was collecting lionfish about 65 feet underwater on March 13 when a 6-foot Caribbean reef shark repeatedly charged him.

Luckily, the 33-year-old former deputy with the Wake County Sheriff's Office, had a spear to keep the creature at bay as he tried to ascend to the water's surface.

Dimitri says that his law enforcement training kicked in, reminding him how to react quickly under pressure.

"I actually wanted to go see sharks in the water here," he said in a telephone call Tuesday. "I just never expected this type of encounter."

Dimitri captured the close call on video and later uploaded it to YouTube. As of Tuesday afternoon, the three-minute clip had more than 1.3 million views.

"Obviously, from the video, you can see it scared the you-know-what out of me," he said. "It definitely was very nerve-wracking until it was over."

Despite the scary experience, he adds it's made him more intrigued with sharks.

Dimitri and his wife have been studying to be dive instructors for the past six months.

They plan to return to Raleigh next month, and he hopes to return to his job at the sheriff's office – which might turn out to be a whole lot safer than his current job.


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  • frosty Mar 19, 2014

    The shark was attracted to the fish. Spear fishing around sharks is a recipe for an encounter. People are trying to control the Lionfish populations as they are a invasive species that are causing serious harm. Some places are trying to train predators like sharks, barracudas and groupers to learn to eat Lionfish to control them. Notice the shark went back down to the container. Fortunately they no longer hand feed sharks but maybe the shark did not get the memo. I believe they still do in parts of the Bahamas.

    Same thing as don't feed the bears in the state parks.

  • baldchip Mar 19, 2014

    His coolness was amazing. Most of us would have panicked badly. Good job-great video.

  • Forthe Newssite Mar 19, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    There are many divers in Cayman who go out and kill the lionfish: 1-to get rid of them (no natural predators outside of the pacific) & 2 they have begun eating them and selling in some restaurants.

  • Bobby Caudle Mar 19, 2014
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    good greif, whats the big deal over this?. it was a little shark

  • Alan Baker Mar 19, 2014
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    Lionfish are supposedly pretty high in ciguatoxin so he might not have been collecting for eating. Regardless, even if the bite radius of that little shark is only five or six inches, that's a pretty massive chunk of flesh to lose all at once.

  • Cabe Merritt Mar 19, 2014
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    That shark is TINY. Big deal.

  • Arthur Raleigh Mar 19, 2014
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    And this is why you do not swim with sharks!

  • Forthe Newssite Mar 18, 2014
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    And upon watching this a second time, the diver not only has ONE lionfish, he has an entire JAR (big jar) full. That's a lot of dead fish for the shark to smell.

    NOT the kind of thing I want to have happen on a dive though, kudos to the diver for 1) not dropping the jar of fish, 2) not bolting to the surface 3)doing his safety stop :)

  • Forthe Newssite Mar 18, 2014
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    The shark was going after THE FISH, not the diver. It happens. You spear a fish, fish blood attracts the shark and bingo......sharks can detect blood in the water in a parts per million or even billion range :) trivia facts for the day

    It's barracuda, not sharks, that are attracted to shiny objects.

  • Amanda Dean Mar 18, 2014
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    It's the circle of life. He kills the lionfish and the shark comes after him.