Diver tells of coming face-to-face with great white shark

Matt McCormack encountered shark off coast of St. Augustine Inlet

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Matt McCormack came face to face with a great white shark and thankfully lived to tell his tale.

The Jacksonville man had the undersea encounter while diving out of St. Augustine Inlet. He told his story as a great white shark named Mary Lee is remaining off the coast of northeast Florida [Track shark's movement here].

"It was one of the neatest things I've ever seen, along with one of the scariest," McCormack said.

He was about 25 miles east of the inlet and 100 feet below the surface exploring an artificial concrete reef.

"We're swimming around and having a blast, not thinking about anything, just shooting fish and hanging out with each other and just enjoying the ocean," McCormack said.

All of a sudden, McCormack realized his regulator was leaking and he was really low on oxygen. He started making his way over to his dive buddy to tell him he was going back up, and that's when he saw the great white.

"I happened to look up and about 15 feet above me to my left is about a 14-foot great white," McCormack said. "He was monstrous, but he was so slow and elegant."

McCormack said he was paralyzed, completely forgetting he was low on air.

"You could look at his nose and see how scarred up it was, and it was just so pointed and big eyes, huge eyes, and he just seemed very uninterested in me," McCormack said. "He kind of just roamed around through there, just kind of like saying, 'I'm the boss, I run this area, and I just wanted to let you know.'"

In the midst of it all, McCormack dropped his spear gun.

"The scary thing is they're so quiet in the ocean, everything down there is so quiet," he said. "It's not like you've got cars and boats and planes making noise around here where you now what's going on. Down there it's just so quiet, you've got a thousand fish swimming around and you'd never know it. The only thing you hear is yourself breathing."

McCormack and the shark spent about a minute looking at each other, then parted ways.

Suddenly McCormack was completely out of air.

"It was Christmas Eve, so I guess maybe the Good Lord wanted me to go home to my family," he said before laughing. "We see a lot of sea life, sea turtles, sunfish, eels, we see all kinds of stuff out there, but to see the mother of all sharks, the jaws of sharks swimming by you and the fact that he doesn't really want anything to do with you is just, it's very, very, I guess, humbling, maybe. Just realizing that, 'Hey,' you know, 'God created all that, and that's their domain, and we're lucky enough to get out there and go dive in it.'"

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