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Video: Vancouver man films close call with great white shark in South Africa

He may have been behind steel bars, but a Vancouver man says his heart stopped for a second as a great white shark charged at him during a recent cage diving trip.

Jeremy Stewart was on vacation in South Africa when he captured on camera an up-close encounter with the menacing ocean predator. The video has been viewed thousands of times in recent days.

“I had my GoPro right in front of me and the shark came right at me,” Stewart told Metro, adding with a laugh: “If you listen closely, I’m yelling, ‘Oh sh-t!’ but it’s kind of muffled by the bubbles.

Stewart, who works as an animator, said he was cage diving in South Africa’s Gansbaai, an area dubbed “shark alley,” when he decided to film the underwater excursion.

As he was recording, Stewart said he suddenly found himself face-to-face with the three-meter long shark, its jaw open and razor-sharp teeth clearly visible as it charged directly at him.

“I think the lizard part of my brain told me to move away from it,” he recalled the scene. “My instincts just took over.”

Although the moment was terrifying, Stewart said he left the cage feeling more confident in the ocean and went surfing nearby the next day, unafraid of encountering any great whites.

“There were eight of us in the cage, and they weren’t attacking the cage,” he said. “They didn’t see us as prey. They were only after the fish.”

Jeremy Stewart of Vancouver moments before he got up-close to a great white shark.

Jeremy Stewart of Vancouver moments before he got up-close to a great white shark.

When he returned to Vancouver on Sunday, Stewart posted the video online to share with friends. To his surprise, he said it quickly spread online with more than 15,000 total views in only four days.

Stewart said he hopes his video will help encourage tourism to southern Africa, which he said was visibly down during his trip as a result of fears over the Ebola outbreak.

He also hopes the video inspires people to not support the sale of shark-fin soup, a popular dish that is a symbol of wealth and prestige in Chinese culture.

"They're beautiful animals that we should be protecting," he said.

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