Mar 13 2009

Diver Fights and Kills 12 ft. Tiger Shark (Photos & Video)

Published by at 2:57 pm under Sharks,Videos

tiger shark diver Diver Fights and Kills 12 ft. Tiger Shark (Photos & Video)

Diver Craig Clasen grapples with a 12ft tiger shark to protect a friend

Craig Clasen was hunting yellow fin tuna with fellow fisherman Cameron Kirkconnell, photographer D.J Struntz (DJ Strunz’s portfolio) and film maker Ryan McInnis in the Gulf of Mexico when a 12 ft. Tiger Shark aggressively approached and circled Ryan McInnis in deep waters south of the Mississippi River’s mouth. Regarded by many as two of the world’s best free diving spearfishermen, Craig and Cameron have come into contact with thousands of sharks.

Craig Clasen immediately swam to his friend with his spear gun.

‘I positioned myself between Ryan and the shark and I tried to watch it for a second, hoping it would pass us by,’ explained 32-year-old Mr Clasen.

‘I noticed that the shark was getting tighter and tighter and just kept trying to get a back angle on us and behaving in an aggressive manner.

‘The shark made a roll and looked like it was going to charge us so I just went ahead and took the conservative route and put a shaft through its gills.

‘Cameron and I have been around sharks for years and we all have a lot of experience with them but this encounter had a different feel to it.

‘Down in my core I really felt the shark was there to feed. I didn’t want it to come to that.’

Craig spent nearly two hours wrestling with the giant 12ft shark, spearing it seven times and even attempting to drown the beast before eventually finishing it off with a long blade knife.

tiger shark diver knife Diver Fights and Kills 12 ft. Tiger Shark (Photos & Video)

Craig Clasen uses his knife to kill a 12 ft. Tiger Shark

‘Once I shot it in the gills I felt a moral obligation to finish the job,’ says Craig.

‘I didn’t want it to go on any longer than it had to. I shot the fish like I would do any other fish and worked it up closer and did my best to kill it as humanely as possible.

‘I speared it in the gills which I knew would kill it and from that I tried to put a shaft into its brain as quickly as possible.

‘I shot it six times in the head with a spear and I wasn’t having much luck – it was a slow drawn out process.

‘Sharks are so resilient and so tough from millions of years of evolution they are just survivors.

‘The best way and quickest way to finish the job and kill the shark and recover it was to get a rope around its tail, drag it from the back of the boat and attempt to drown it.

‘In the end we had put a knife its skull once I got lose enough to it and use a long blade knife even after trying to drown it.’

Story at Transworld Surf
tiger shark diver2 Diver Fights and Kills 12 ft. Tiger Shark (Photos & Video)


When I wrote this post over a year ago, I had no idea it would garner such a big reaction and so strong opinions. Ryan McInnis, the photographer at the incident, recently discovered the post and left a comment and his reaction. As for everyone else, please keep it civil. I will delete any flame comments, so far I’ve had to delete multiple comments. Ryan, thanks for your comment and for clarifying the story.

Here’s Ryan’s comment reprinted from below:

Wow… I stumbled across this thread today and am amazed that 2 years after the incident there is still discussion about it. I’ll try to be brief:
- Spearfishing is the most ethical and sustainable way to provide seafood for oneself. We were there to take tuna and wahoo.
- We were also there to capture video and images of a new product line for a company. Businesses need promotional material of their gear in action.
- There was a combined 100 years of ocean experience in the water at the time this happened. 2 of us are from North Carolina where sharks are present on EVERY dive. I personally have spent hours outside a cage with big great whites. In other words, we know sharks.
- Our boat was over 50 yards away when this happened, getting out of the water would have been the first option of course. But this event happened faster than the boat could get to us, and swimming away from an aggressive sharks is the last option.
- Once the decision had been made and the first shot fired (which was a mortal shot), there was no other choice but to finish the fish. They are tough and yes it took many more shots to end the struggle. We took pictures and video because the initial danger was over.
- The mood was more than somber and the event cast a dark shadow on what was otherwise a great trip. Killing a shark is an awful thing, and this was the first time in all of our years that it had been necessary.
- One of us was working on a story with Outside Magazine, they ran a photo as ‘what you hope never happens’… then the national media caught it (10 months later) and before we knew it wild rumors and lies about the event began to spread.
And here I am today, still trying to explain why this happened. What got lost in all of this is that I was nearly attacked by a fish twice my size and my buddy came to my rescue. It’s no different than a grizzly bear in Alaska being shot for charging a hiker. It’s terrible but it’s part of sharing the outdoors with the natural residents.
We don’t hate sharks but we do love spearfishing. We did not benefit from this event at all, quite the opposite.
RM, underwater videographer

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pixel Diver Fights and Kills 12 ft. Tiger Shark (Photos & Video)

262 responses so far

  • Felipe Barros

    This diver is a MotherFucker!
    a Bastard!

  • Sharkbaitblogger

    I also dive with sharks and with the greatest respect to Craig and Ryan, the truth of this matter looks like it revolved around –

    ‘…We were there to take tuna and wahoo.
    - We were also there to capture video and images of a new product line for a company. Businesses need promotional material of their gear in action…’

    Spear fishing is more ecological than ‘industrial’ fishing methods but it also rings the dinner bell for any predators in the area and consequently the ‘aggression’ in this case appears to have been about dominance over the food source.

    Female Tiger shark turned up wanting fish, you didn’t want to stop fishing and that generated an opportunity to get some ‘gnarly’ publicity material?.. after all, you didn’t have to film it.. and you certainly didn’t have to release the footage…

  • Lovekittys

    Give the man a medal? seriously sharks need to feed to live and if someone is in their feeding area what would they do attack. whta would you do if you didnt have a ohine and someone broke into your house for food?

  • Nikki Smith

    i agree with you :) people should have more respect for the animals here…not like they really know anything about them….

  • Autumn michelle gosnell

    whatever for god sakes what if someone came into your home wouldn’t you be aggresive too so shut the H$$$ up

  • Autumn michelle gosnell

    why would you do that wouldnt you be aggresive too if someone came into your home i think you should have gottin out of the water so that wouldn’t have happened and for the people are saying give him a medal you have sick minds guys really stop bragging this is nothing to brag about that is rediculous so shut the heck up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Autumn michelle gosnell

    uuummmm no they think of us like we do of burgalurs so shut up

  • Autumn michelle gosnell

    you are so right it makes me sick

  • ebwaverider91

    what are you PETA patrol! haaa

  • Xtreme3ten

    this guy did have the right away, im sorry, i am an animal lover too, but you guys got to understand one thing, animals “WILL” attack and sometimes kill when they feel threatened…human beings share the same animal instinct so…if you guys call this barbaric, idk what a “shark tearing a human being limb to limb” would be called!

  • Crazybird1215

    awesome, caught a 6ft black tip off Corpus Christi… baby compared to this one though

  • Jones Jordan1

    well shooting didnt seem to work, i guess all that sea food you eat or they use to fertilize your “vegan” meals with just jumped into a rainbow net and were ground up with smiles…. hippie

  • no wrong doings

    Really??!?!?! so a sharks life is more important that a human’s life? autumn, i think you need to get your head on straight. the guys were very remorseful that this had to happen…. BUT it had to happen- period.

  • no wrong doings

    hummm, i hope you are never in the water felipe…. sounds like you think it is better to be eaten than to have your life saved. good luck with that one.

  • no wrong doings

    scuba steve you’ve obviously never done any diving before…maybe you should try it some time… then post.

  • slapnasty

    seriously..a shark,,comming in your home…stupid!!its a freakin fish. Some keep as pets, some eat, some trophy. This pertains to all animals. They are not human. God made the Entire Earth for man to explore and rule. The ocean is just as much my home as the shark. So shut up stupid!!

  • slapnasty

    they were their to feed too stupid!!

  • Merc

    so autumn, that means it’s cool for a native american to kill you since you invaded their home? Good to know.

  • merc

    If you’re so against people breaking into places they don’t belong, why don’t you pack your shit and gtfo out of America since this land belong to the natives and your people decided to just move in without permission, steal land, rape and kill thousands.

  • Anonymous

    Being a diver myself (SCUBA right now – haven’t quite worked my way to free-diving yet), I sincerely understand the risks that I’m taking when I sink below the ocean’s surface. (Especially since I primarily dive around the Channel Islands and up in Monterey.)

    I think you guys did the right thing. You weighed your options and you came up with that solution. You killed it, even though it took time – something to be expected when you’re fighting such a powerful animal in such a hostile environment (seeing as it can breathe underwater and you cannot). The shark would’ve died much faster if you were fighting it on a more even “ground” so to speak.

    Being a pro-active person, I’ve seriously considered what I’d have to do if I found myself (or my diving partner) face to face with an aggressive shark (in other words, the Great White).

    There is no way that we could out-swim such a powerful creature, yet I am not willing to hover there and wait to die, or watch my partner die. So, I’ve mentally made the decision to do whatever I can to protect the life of my partner as well as myself if it comes down to that.

    If the aggressive creature can be spared, then I’ll take that route, but if it cannot – then I have no qualms with killing it. That is how the circle of life works, after-all.

    To those people who are uttering all that nonsense about people encroaching on animal territory and thus deserving whatever “punishment” said animals are going dish out – keep in mind that there is really no such thing as trespassing in regards to the animal kingdom.

    For thousands of years we have all lived on the same planet. There has never been a truly natural and clear-cut delineation between “human” territory and “animal” territory. We all live on neutral ground. Yes, with the advancement of technology and architecture we have marked out distinct zones for human habitation, but that doesn’t mean that it cannot be reclaimed by nature (and vice versa).

    As far as I am concerned, we are at the mercy of the animal kingdom, while at the same time the animal kingdom is also at our mercy. There are going to be casualties on both sides, but that is both normal and healthy.

    I’ll go hunting/fishing. I will kill a fish, rabbit, or deer (etc…) if it means that I can eat. I’ll do so responsibly, because I am not a poacher. If I die to a wild animal, it is not because I was trespassing – it’s just because that is how thing panned out.

  • Kid Mars

    Right because because the entire sea is a shark’s home just like everytime I step outside im in your home. Be realistic if you were in there position you would have done the same thing. Once they made the move to get out of the water they would have been eaten alive and to be brutally honest two human lives aren’t worth preserving an aggressive sharks life.

  • Clubfun13

    If the divers were afraid for their life wouldn’t they injure the shark and leave? I’m pretty sure they can catch some fish tomorrow. I understand the need to protect yourself but do you need to video tape it and post it? Shouldn’t you be more worried about surviving the killk, not recording it?

  • Jen

    Kidding, right? Yes, a shark is a fish, but you’ll agree sharks and catfish (catfish are my example) are apples and oranges? Most catfish mature in 2-3 years and spawn thousands of future catfish at a time, whereas a shark takes 6-12 years to mature. Gestation time? Up to two years. Average number of pups? 2. Give. Me. A. Break. Pull your head out of your ass por favor.

    Also, to the people out there saying this man had no right to kill the shark because the shark was doing what comes “natural,” please remember humans also possess certain “natural and automatic” instincts. Survival is one of them. I hate to see a beautiful wild thing killed, but I’d much prefer it be killed by a remorseful man trying to save his life than a man who cuts off it’s fins and throws it back in the water to drown. That’s actual barbarism.

  • Brian_theophilwilliams

    wow superb , if Craig Clasen would not have taken the step he took he would have lost a friend.

  • Luc

    When it comes down to it, each side did what they were born to do. Act on a choice based on instincts & circumstances and ultimately it comes down to something ALL animals do: Survive.

    They each were on even playing field. Sure the snorkeler has no gills, but he has experience. The shark, vice verse. Both understand the risks involved with taking on another animal. As far as I’m concerned, it was a fair fight.

    I do commend Craig on his efforts to try and make it quick and painless. any other lesser of a human would probably just disabled the creature and left it suffering till it expired.

    I too am a diver and have a GREAT love, admiration and respect for all marine creatures, but also keep in mind that I could be in this place. Or do I thank my lucky stars the shark is more interested in my buddy (my wife) and head for the surface worried about my own welfare?

    For those that may not understand, that is why we call each other buddies. Always at each others side, reaching out to help and NEVER come back without them.

  • crimson pirate

    wenn leute wie du nur halb soviel energie in etwas produktives stecken würden, wie sie verwenden um schimpfwörter zu erfinden, wäre die welt ein besserer ort … und du machst das sogar gleich in zwei sprachen (sicherlich um deine intelligenz zu beweisen) …

    if people like you would put half as much energy in something productive as they use to invent swear words, the world would be a better place … and you even do it in two languages (no doubt to prove your intelligence) …

  • DeepDiver

    what would you do if you were in this position ?? your very quick with you words, though something tells me you wouldnt be very quick to make a decision if you were the diver…. luckily no one would comment on the sharks post when he killed you.

  • los

    What is with this needless use of the word “sustainable”  That is a useless and inept term as no diver or liberal can ever give birth to sharks so how the hell can one know for sure the level of fundamental generation of new born sharks?  You have no idea how uninformative an needless that term sustainable is — stop using it as it is meaningless!

  • cr

    What an idiot!  The first shot simply failed to kill it — At this point one needs to shoot it again and again until it dies.
    Animals are not stupid like people are Kayla – they live in a world of kill and or be killed — You obviously are living in a dream world and have yet to discover that PETA KILLS its animals like the dog pound does when animals are not claimed and it is not the business of Americans to worry over Japans meager whaling industry – the USA whales as well.  Your be kind to animals fervor goes too far, you are mentally disordered.  The future for you is to get an education.

  • Sun_god100

    Fuck off PETA bitch!

  • Sun_god100

    Nutbar! When you get a real job and enter into the real world….give us a call. Until then, piss off!

  • razzle

    why kill the shark you are in its water fucking twats hope you get eaten by sharks

  • Eharnagel

    all i can say is HOLY SHIT what a horrible story, that poor kid. One can only imagine what they were thinking after during and after that happened, im sure it scarred them all for life. thats much worse than what has happened to that shark. whoever shot the dog must have been a quick draw and a dead eye thats amazing. Im guessing he alwasys carried his firearm with him, for just those reasons, just like having a speargun underwater when something like that happens. AMAZING STORIES. Hippies suck OBAMA cock 


    FUCKIN (Ficken) stoopid NAZIS. We already kicked ur ass once and ur comin back for more? Fraulein, pull Adolf’s cock out of ur ass and gas urself

  • Guest

    So ur saying if i kill an ant im a muderer, what’s ur point? I bet u live in a city where u are totally detached from the way the food gets to the stores where u shop. U say by killing one shark that was getting too close (but is not dangerous according to you) will disrupt the balance of the ecosystem. youve been fed a load of liberal BS from our wonderful school systems. you need to read MORE and get out of that city and live a real life and not a virtual one cause there is still a lot u have to learn. the way u and the others view this is so distorted it makes me sick

  • hey its me

    how would he like  it if we killed him but im not gonna

  • getreal

    put yourself in their situation and try and resolve this with a song of kumbaya, get a grip

  • getreal

    spell properly people will take you more seriously, they were just protecting themselves

  • 1776IsComingAgain

    Felipe, you are just so beyond idiotic that words won’t do it justice.

  • Lauralee Alberts

    Let’s see……. protect my friend & Me…..or sustain serious injury or more…from a damned shark!!! It all seems pretty locgical & ethical to me…..and I am only regular kinkd of gal who loves animals and mammals…….
    And noone would complain had you been injured……For Shame!!

  • Nolan

    And how exactly were they going to outsell a shark? Moron.

  • John Coogen

    If you receive any more hate mail or hate posts remind them what happen to Beth Hamilton soul surfer it was a tiger shark 15 FT long that took her left arm.

  • Potter Shark4

    A single shark doesn’t live throughout the entire ocean. It has territory and personal space, and as tiger sharks are opportunistic feeders they take every chance they get. Spear fishers are always in danger because the blood of the fresh kill and the diver’s high heartbeat can simulate wounded prey.

  • Pachanga

    I go out to the ocean, this is no joke. your not dealing with a cure puppy it will bite and bite and bite again. i saw my friend being eaten by a shark. all you animal lovers need to get real. I alway carry a  knife with me and will kill anything that will come close to me as ocean is a doggy dog world Fish have no martality they are hungry and youre meat. good job guys i wouldve killed it and feed it to the sharks mate to eat it because they will even eat their own.

    People get sad an pissed off when a human being is being sluttered to pisses not a freaking brainless anmial. I hate you americans who dont have no value for your own kind. i dog or a cat is more important to you, Thats why your country is goint under. End of story.

  • Cyrus Allan Sudaria

    Poor little shark tortured by human. :( Is there a way you could possibly do to kill it clean and fast? I hope not to read this again.
    Long Beach Personal Injury

  • Phil

    Hundreds of Thousands of sharks are murdered annually for their fins for human consumption and this is “okay” but a couple of guys who were protecting themselves are killers??

    I am a Open Water Diver and diving comes with risks especially when you are in the habitat of some of the biggest predators on the planet. I love sharks but if one saw me as dinner it would have to come down to him or me … doesn’t take much to guess which way I would choose :)

    You guys were right on to kill it outright .. it would have been much worse to leave it with a mortal wound to slowly die an agonising death.

    Keep diving :)

  • Shark

    I can only hope this A-hole gets eaten next time or dies a painful death.

  • SW125

    Good job. I hope all Sharks who dare cross humans path are killed. We are the top of the food chain, and they better respect that. If not, they die. I’m all for sharing the ocean. Stay out of my way, and I will stay out of yours. Start attacking me and my kind (humans), then I will start attacking yours.

  • Nah885

    Hi there, read your article about ending a shark life especially a tiger shark. Yes,they are indeed one of the more aggressive shark. I strongly support the idea of tying a rope behind the tail of the shark as shooting more spears or even cutting it up as this will inturn invite more of it’s kind towards the attraction of blood in the water.
    I strongly believed that we are indeed at the top of their food chain irregardless if we humans can sometimes be mistaken as seals for their food as most times the attack on humans can be fatal. However, from what I have read from most reports posted,it seems that sharks are getting much intelligent in attacking it’s prey. And that explains why there are some strange method of attack from these species on humans. My suggestions is we had better stop improvising method of feeding and teasing these animals as it will only cultivate their method of attacking innocent victims. Afterall, they were not made to be domesticated animals such as a dog to go fetch a newspaper.

  • Instanthero

    Ya, these guys definitely did what was necessary under the circumstances; they saved multiple human lives as opposed to one shark’s life. But were all missing one important thing here…


    Instant hero, just add water… and spears… and knives :)