Rodney Fox will revisit Aldinga Beach on Sunday 8 December where 50 years ago he narrowly escaped death in what is known as one of the world’s greatest Great White Shark survival stories.
This infamous attack, which left Mr Fox with lasting scars, ultimately led him to establish one of South Australia’s most valuable tourism experiences – shark cage diving at Port Lincoln.
Tourism Minister Leon Bignell said Port Lincoln is one of only three places in the world where tourists can come face-to-face with a Great White Shark from the safety of a cage.
He said Mr Fox’s dedication and insight into the Great White Sharks has helped to create this unique tourism opportunity in South Australia.
“People travel from around the world for the experience of diving with Great Whites off Port Lincoln," Mr Bignell said.
"Not only is diving with the sharks a huge tourism draw card for South Australia, it also provides an important boost to the regional economy of the Eyre Peninsula."
While Mr Fox could have turned the attack into an assault on one of the ocean’s most feared predators, he used his experience to educate and create widespread awareness about Great White Sharks.
“There’s so much we still don’t know about this mysterious creature and I’ve made it my mission to expose the myths surrounding the shark as much as possible,” Mr Fox said.
His efforts in this field have earned him several accolades including the South Australian Tourism Industry Council’s Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual.
Now 72 years old, the South Australian who has dedicated his life to the research and protection of the animal that nearly killed him, reflects on the day that still remains clear in his mind.
“I remember it like it was yesterday – it’s not something easy to forget.
“The thing my attack really showed me though was how little we knew about the Great White and how fearful we are of things we don’t know much about.
“Since my attack, I have been determined to share what I have learnt about Great White Sharks and to let people know they are not the crazy man eaters many people think.
“There’s still a lot to learn, but for people to be able to safely view them is a start. To give people a better understanding them is something I am proud of achieving.
“Sharks are a key predator at the top of the food chain and essential for keeping our oceans healthy, so we have to learn to live with the sharks and not kill them out of fear."