British soldier ‘stalked’ by shark during solo Atlantic row

An astonishing photo captures a six-foot whitetip shark lurking beneath the boat of a man as he rows solo across the Atlantic.

Jack Jarvis, 28, a 59 Commando Regiment soldier from Southampton, rowed solo between Portugal and Florida in 111 days to raise funds for the Braintrust charity, in honour of his grandad.

Speaking to Newsweek last week after his epic journey came to an end, Jarvis says he saw everything from marlins, dolphins, whales and flying fish during his time at sea.

But it was the attention of the oceanic whitetip, regarded as one of the most aggressive shark species, that prompted Jarvis to grab his camera and dip his hand into the ocean to capture the moment.

“I saw its fin and this sheer excitement came over me,” Jarvis says. “It was about six feet away from the boat… it would back off and then in a burst of speed, get really close to the boat again.”

Jarvis rowed from Portugal to Florida in 111 days. Image courtesy of Jack Jarvis (instagram.com/jack59jarvis)

The shark continued to follow him for “about 10 to 15 minutes” before vanishing into the depths.

Oceanic whitetips live in the open ocean, and therefore rarely come into contact with humans. However, they are associated with some of the deadlist shark attacks in history. In 1945, the USS Indianapolis was attacked and sunk by a Japanese torpedo. While the sailors were waiting for rescue, oceanic whitetips amassed and killed an estimated 150 sailors, making it the deadliest shark attack in history.

Jarvis, however, says he was not afraid of the shark and was simply excited to witness the predator in its natural environment.

An Atlantic blue marlin also followed the boat at one point. Image courtesy of Jack Jarvis (instagram.com/jack59jarvis)

“How many people would say they’ve seen a shark in the world? Not many,” he says. “I was in the boat so I knew if it got a little bit too close for comfort I could always pull my hand up. And let’s remember, humans kill hundreds of sharks every year and I think sharks kill probably less than five people a year… So if anyone was going to be scared, it should have been the shark.”

Flying fish would also hit the boat throughout the night, Jarvis says.

“They would even hit and attack me directly, which was always a surprise. There were loads of birds as well. I always used to be amazed by them, I was like where the hell have they come from? I was 1,000 miles away from any land.”

Jarvis completed his incredible journey in March, when he arrived in south Florida. He has so far raised around £62,000 for Braintrust, surpassing his target of £50,000.

Spotlight Job

Project manager (marine civils/construction engineer)

DOE, Hamble (near Southampton)

A confident, friendly, suitably experienced project engineer is needed join a growing team. You must have a minimum of 3-5 years post graduate, practical site experience in construction, ideally from a civil engineering background.

Full job description »

Comments are closed.