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

  • Yo momma

    Seen tens of thousands of sharks while diving. Have had hundreds get aggressive but I knew they where after my speared fish. Only once did I think 600lb bull shark wanted me cause I had not even shot any fish yet. I swam a hundred yards back to the boat with the damn thing trying to take a bite out of me. If I would of had a 3 band riffe rather than a single band biller. Which would have just bounced off it. I would have speared the shark with the rife for sure. It’s like a bad dog sometimes you got to put them down. Please don’t feed sharks your speared fish. This only makes them associate divers with food. Do everything you can to get you and your fish back to the boat. Bet tiger shark taste like crap. Would have been better if it was a mako.

  • JuanitaBanana

    what are you taling about?

  • Anonymous

    if you can not handle what is in the ocean then you have no right to be in there. it is the sharks territory and if you do not have the smarts to be in the ocean with sharks such as a tiger then don’t go. I have been diving with shark for years and yes I have been attacked, but i know how to handle them. If you want to go into the ocean learn the what to do and not to do if you were about to get attacked. It is very sad the way you killed that animal. No i would not have done the same thing.

  • Kdbolk

    Considering you only had the options to kill or die, you made the right choice. I’m sorry that so many people are so ignorant that they to give you grief about doing what you could to survive. I knew if my best friend was in danger I wouldn’t even considered other options as you two had.
    You did what you had to in order to survive, tried to be humane as possible and acted with respect toward another living creature.
    Also it takes some serious conviction and bravery to approach a predator (Even if it is wounded.) and finish it off hand-to-hand just so the poor creature wouldn’t have to suffer needlessly. That is nothing short of respectable. 

  • Tio Pepe

    Killing a shark is stupid.

  • LT546

    The mistake you’re making here is that sharks make a malicious decision to kill humans, they don’t. You, however, would be killing sharks out of pure hate, you have a big enough brain to know that it’s not necessary, use it!

  • Ohs0fast

    You wreak with ignorance. ‘several basic easy things to get out of danger’ … yeah, like maybe ask the shark to reconsider?? You are in it’s natural habitat and it’s looking for dinner. There are two options, get out of the water or strike preemptively – as was stated, the boat was too far away for the first option. A man trying to out swim a tiger shark is the same as him trying to out run a tiger, not going to happen it’s what they were designed to do.

  • Ohs0fast

    They day you’re in the water and encourage a 12′ tiger shark to come ‘check you out’ will be the day you understand why they killed this shark.

  • Ohs0fast

    Are you a marine biologist? Avid seaman? fisherman? How do you know what is and isn’t an effective way to kill an animal, let alone a beast of a shark? They shot it several times and that didn’t work … what, just keep shooting until there is nothing left?? In general animals are much more resilient than humans (without medical aid anyway) – ie. you can shoot a grizzly in the head with a .22 and it’ll only make it mad, not so much with a human.

  • Roefmister88

    Idiot!!!,they are there to see not to kill your idiot

  • Becca

     dragging a fish against the current of the water drowns it extremely quickly as they require water flowing over their gills for them to be able to breath – so given that they could not get through the tough skin to kill it any other way, I’d say this was better than letting it bleed to death or be eaten by another shark.

  • Becca

     i think you’ll find they were there first…. by quite a few thousand years…

  • Hollyannesamuelsen

    I really found the post interesting.  I am studying nutrition right now.  The killing of a shark and ingesting its eye was an ancient Hawaiian tradition of Kings. 

  • A.M

    All you dumb shits bashing the “hippies” need to pick up a book and do some goddamn research, not watch jaws and think you know everything about sharks.
    Sharks are an important part of the ecosystem and MUST be protected not only for their own good, but for the good of the world.
    Let me break this down for you idiots who say sharks are”just another fish”: If sharks were to go extinct, the entire food chain would collapse. Sharks feed on low class predators (squid, sea lions, dolphins,etc.). Without sharks, low class predators would become over populated. When that happens, the fish population plummets, resulting in a global food crisis since most humans rely on seafood. When the fish population plummets, the population of zooplankton goes up. When that happens, the phytoplankton population decreases. Phytoplankton are responsible for 70% of earths breathable air and they are earths defense against global warming. When we lose most of our fresh air and protection from global warming, everything else goes to shit. Plants die, herbivores die, carnivores die, and eventually WE die.
    Sharks have been around since before life existed on land. They are the oldest living organisms on earth. They have thrived while other animals have gone extinct. There is a reason for their existence, and they have just as much, if not more so, reasons to live as we do.

  • freeDIVER2.0

    yer an idiot

  • freeDIVER2.0

    this is an apex predator that’s been around for millions of years. evolution would not allow it to be put down easily. there is nothing humane about KILLING any creature of any kind. but, given the situation, they did what had to be done to protect themselves. drowning the shark, although seemingly more cruel, would have been easier than spearing and subsequently stabbing the shark to death. he weighed his options in the time frame he was allowed by the shark and acted to protect himself and his dive partners. what would you have done in this situation?

  • freeDIVER2.0

    this is an apex predator that’s been around for millions of years. evolution would not allow it to be put down easily. there is nothing humane about KILLING any creature of any kind. but, given the situation, they did what had to be done to protect themselves. drowning the shark, although seemingly more cruel, would have been easier than spearing and subsequently stabbing the shark to death. he weighed his options in the time frame he was allowed by the shark and acted to protect himself and his dive partners. what would you have done in this situation?

  • freeDIVER2.0

    seeing as u posted this a year ago, maybe you’ve fed yourself to a starving shark by now. if so, well done.

  • freeDIVER2.0

    seeing as u posted this a year ago, maybe you’ve fed yourself to a starving shark by now. if so, well done.

  • Fng2k5


  • freeDIVER2.0

    NIGGA PLEASE? really?? you probably dont even swim much less dive. stay in the wading pool with the rest of the 3 year olds.

  • Thecommando96

    that’s what he was saying bro.

  • Lewmananw

    Hmmm ive just stumbled upon this article. I must admit it seems sinister even after their story.

    They just happen to have a film maker and photographer on hand, perfect pictures taken even after what is supposedly a really traumatic event. Then they get to write a nice article and drum up some publicity hmmmm. Oh and the video due to the ‘panic’ doest show in what manner the shark was speared or how it was acting other than a curious swim pass. I know you gave your reasons for the above but its very convenient.

    Now i do know about sharks and apparently they do but it doest come over that way. So these guys swim with great whites out of the cage. Meaning their experienced and shouldnt have their feathers so easily roughled by a small shark in comparisant to a great white and even adult tiger shark standards ( IF you swim with great whites then im sure you have occasionally needed to push them away via there nose by hand or via spear point. Which would seriously deter an attack. As shown on the larger tiger shark in the vid above.

    Sharks will often “bump” before biting, and if it entered that range you could have used the above technique easily. As you stated you got infront of your helpless friend and had the spear gun. So guy stop saying how his mat was in mortal danger and the sea was gonna be sprayed in his mates blood if he hesitated for a sec because that oviously isnt the case. But instead you shot at this small tiger shark with a spear gun. Then proceeded to shoot it many times in this apparent goliath battle to the death which lasts 2 hours and then went in with your knife. You portray yourself as this great hero yet if we dig deeper you really arnt.

    Sorry i just see 3 apparently experienced shark knowledgable (swim with great whites) guys armed with speargun/knife scared to death by a small to medium sized tiger so they had to kill it a little far fetched. Admittedly Tiger sharks are the garbage cans of the ocean and will eat anything, having sharp serrated teeth which can crush a turtle shell helps. I also do think there more aggressive than great whites. Great whites often attack through mistaken identity above water and curiosity under.

    Whereas a Tiger shark is aggressive and may fancy his chances against a lone diver or chance event. But against 3 divers with the equipment and experienced your said to have you should of been able to poke him in the nose with spearpoint and he would have moved away realising your not easy prey. You could then have slowly moved towards your boat. Btw people stop with all the sharks swim at etc etc speed and humans at a slower rate. This was no race. The divers as a group of three could have slowly made there way back as the shark would have been detered via spearpoint and numbers.

    As for then taking 2hrs to kill it. Seems your aim is quite bad for spear fishing as all the spears were in its back and to low to hit its brain(pictures). One shot to the brain and it would have been over. No need for the long drawn out story telling battle saga.Seems you strung it out took pics and made it seem more than what it was.

    Oh love how you said this ordeal put you in a somber mood for the rest of the trip…. could of swore i saw you waving in the pictures with the shark.

  • Lewmananw

    1. hes spear fishing on his own
    2.he hasnt swam with great whites like you 3 pro’s
    3.its larger than yours by a foot
    4. hes got fish in his hand dangerous (oils/blood)
    4. oh crap its circling (aggression apparently)
    5. well you know what this means he must shoot it as its being aggressive, and kill it over 2hrs while taking photos.

    oh wait, he just pokes it with his spear and it shoves off, wait he didnt get in his boat even those he had time, wait he follows it. Seems to be playing tag lol.

    How did this random spear fishing guy manage to keep it together unlike you 3 pro (great white swim divers didnt). Just like i said in my previous post sounds fishy.

  • Haitham_Mogherbi

    You all did the right thing. It’s regrettable but I would have acted no different. I’m glad you are alive and I’m sure you’re buddy deserves a lot of thanks for his bravery!

  • Haitham_Mogherbi

    Very well put. I’m a believer in conservation, but it doesn’t mean one must shy from nature nor hunting. Life and death are cyclycle and one feeds the other.

  • John harper

    Upmost respect for taking out that shark, Such a tough feat to accomplish with in the end nothing but a knife, your a born survivor hah. 

  • Ace Hardware

    this is why humans are fucken sick we think we have the right to kill anything tiger sharks other people who the fuck are we as humans to make the vote on who live and dies it make me fucken sick i heop god wipes out the human race for this shit we dont care we have no remorce for animals we juts kill kill cousume to the point of driveing animals to extinstion shame on us

  • Jenny Gibbard

    Sorry guys but when you put yourselfs in these situations what do u expect? The sharks have to hunt for food,we don’t anymore as we now have such a variety of food choices and as for the previous reviewer saying he was approached by a shark as he had a black fish strapped to his belt…. No really, shocker ?? I think yet again it’s machismo at play

  • Anonymous

    I think this is great, more spear fishers should take out aggressive sharks.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad they speared & killed it. All spearfishers should do the same when faced with an aggressive shark. Let them learn to fear us.

  • Anonymous

    No, we should kill all sharks that show aggression to spearfishers. Save human lives now.

  • Liselotte Grünes Licht

    Oh! Dear SHARK killer! SEXY motherfucker of a DIVER!
    You had certainly an erection during that?
    C´mon… be honest!

  • vixxy

    i got a mako shark steak from the comissary once and it was delicious. I told everyone about what a great tasting fish it was. A relative proceeded to go off on me on my facebook page telling me what a pos I was for it. First of all did I hunt and kill it? no! and if it was endangered like she claimed do you really think it would be for sale in a military comissary? 2. Much better to see all of a fish used than the cruel arse find fishing where they lop off the fins only then through the still alive shark in the water to dye slowly. That is the kind of thing you should be angry about not 2 people trying to survive a shark attack, what the hell is a matter with you people that diss people trying to survive. 3. Maybe you believe all people should be vegans but well just by the way our body works as a whole says that humans have been hunter/fisher/foragers for eons and nutritionally experts say we should have a variety of foods. You can be vegan and get the right nutrients but all of the vegans I know stick to salad and regular veggies and don’t eat the beans and the legumes that are very needed to be HEALTHY vegans. I don’t hate anyone that feels animals should not be used for food but I do have a problem with someone telling me how the hell I am supposed to eat. Live your life in a manner your feel good about but don’t shove your personal morals and beliefs on everyone else.

  • Gabe B

    Your an idiot. He couldn’t just get out of the water, If your turn your back to swim away from an aggressive shark it’s just going to attack and kill you from behind! He had every right to defend himself from a shark that intended to kill him!

  • Gabe B

    Yes of course, sharks like most other Apex predators will attack and try to kill humans. That doesn’t mean you can just go wipe out the species for it though.

  • Gabe B

    The misguided naivety shown by people on here is depressing. Clearly most of you here have never been in a situation where you had to fight for your life. They were both put in a situation where they had to FIGHT for their lives to survive and most of you wish they hadn’t! I bet most of you sick misguided people here wish they had been killed by the shark! Disgusting!

  • Eric

    Next time your in the water and a shark comes at you I want you to feed it cause your dragging down the human gene pool

  • Eric

    People eat fish and guess what they have to go into the ocean to do it. When another creature goes to attack you, you kill it first. Your pathetic and should be ashamed of yourself for killing plants unhumanely.

  • Eric

    The ocean may be their home but its not like we are not allowed to go swimming. A seal lives in the ocean so when they come on land should we hit them with a hammer. Your clearly out of your mind… you eat fish? How about plants……? Maybe you should go swimming with sharks and see how humanely they eat you.

  • Eric

    Please stop dumbing down our gene pool. Please don’t have kids as they may be just as stupid as you and PETA

  • Topher Dean

    My friend helped a girl who was attacked by a 14′ tiger shark last week and it was a close call. She got her hand bit but her friend jumped off his surfboard and onto the back of the shark punching it and kicking it. I’ve had many close calls with tiger sharks while surfing so i’ve decided to wear a knife now when I surf. That’s how I stumbled on this post. My friend and I were debating how big a knife we should get, I thought a 3 inch blade would be enough to deter it but my friend said he’d rather have a 6 or 7 inch blade, of course he witnessed the attack so you know he doesn’t want to mess around. I’m still concerned about weight which is a significant factor in surfing. Tiger sharks attack and sometimes kill people regularly here in Hawaii and lately the attacks have been increasing. They are every bit as dangerous as a great white and I think even more so. Nobody has a right to judge these guys until they’ve been in a situation like this. I don’t blame them one bit and I think it’s obvious that they feel bad about what happened. You want to get angry at somebody, point your hatred towards the shark finning industry.

  • Topher Dean

    350 million to be more precise.

  • Topher Dean

    Don’t listen to these guys Kayla, I know you’re just expressing your sadness about it but truthfully I think these guys did the best they could and they obviously didn’t enjoy the ordeal.

  • Topher Dean

    You were doing so well Eharnagel and then you add that stupid comment at the end, too bad.

  • Topher Dean

    Wow, there are a lot of mean people in this thread. Poor Kayla expresses her sorrow about drowning the shark and well it may be misguided she doesn’t deserve to be attacked with such hatred. You guys are worse than the tiger sharks, at least they don’t attack out of hate, they’re just hungry.

  • JAM

    I am sorry you all had to endure such a “scare” and suffer through it. You totally did the right thing in every way. You were as merciful to the attacking animal as you could possibly be while defending your own lives. Thank goodness for you all you knew what you were doing, were very strong, and very humane. This story will probably go on being discussed for generations, and should. So many good lessons to learn from this. The hardest part is the aftermath in the media and people who have unrealistic ideas that the world is bubble gum and lollipops. Sometimes it’s eat or be eaten, so a person has to just do his best. God bless you all!

  • JAM

    One thing to consider in your tactic to put the attacking shark out of its misery as quickly as possible…you said the first shot was fatal. You might want to consider exiting the scene after the first shot or two if you ever have a similar run-in again. You were blessed you did not attract many more sizeable sharks into a frenzy with the shark blood in the water and this incident going on for so long. Next time, consider the minimum, quickest number of fatal shots needed, and get out before it gets worse.

  • Skyler Thomas

    Craig, you need to die, you lying piece of glory-seeking shit

  • Alfredo Sanchez

    What is up with all the animosity !!!! You do know the US kills 40 million cows and 80 million pigs every year right? lets not talk about chickens… how about tuna? remind yourself the next time you eat one … and as per the pet lovers; the SPCA euthanizes nearly 90% of un adoptable pets in the USA every year. Not least, for all you wankers in here that visit zoos or water parks like Sea world, shame on you. As per those of you that use plastic water bottles on a day to day and do not recycle it… well, you’ve killed more ocean life than these two fellas fighting for theirs. Least, they have the courage to try to end its suffering, (as opposed to what happens to animals that consume plastics). By the way, Next time you are all driving, try to avoid all the insects your car eats, and my favorite of all time, next time ya’ll get ill with the flue or have a stomach belly, dare not kill that virus or bacteria you evil senseless ppl.

    - The end.