Great white shark joins divers off Key West

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Training to become a certified scuba diver is a serious and sometimes stressful process.

An aerospace engineer turned Key West deckhand knew his training dive on Wednesday would be challenging, but he did not expect a 15-foot great white shark to join him on his first deep dive.

Cody Wabiszewski was an aerospace engineer in Pennsylvania, but decided to move to the Keys to start a charter fishing company. In the meantime, he’s working as a deckhand on dive boats at Captain Hooks in Marathon Florida and Big Pine Key.

Wednesday was Wabiszewski’s day off, so he joined a group of divers going to the Thunderbolt shipwreck about four miles offshore. It was his first deep dive of more than 60 feet.

“When you dive below 60 feet narcosis starts to set in and you can get loopy so I was wondering what this would feel like,” he told FOX 13 News. “As soon as we hit 70 feet on the down line my scuba buddy tapped me on the shoulder and pointed.”

Wabiszewski thought the depth was getting to him.

He was looking at what he thought was an enormous bull shark.

“A second look and I realized it was a great white shark covered in amberjacks, African pompano, and a huge cobia,” he said.

Wabiszewski knew his instructor would not approve if he took out a camera during the descent. The shark was below them so they waited for it to pass and then descended past it.

“As soon as we hit the deck of the thunderbolt I pulled out my GoPro and started filming,” he said.

And luck would have it, the shark decided to pass them one more time.

“When looking at the shark it is amazing, unbelievable, and freaking awesome, so you are not scared. I actually wanted to swim toward the shark to get better video but thought it would scare the shark away and wanted to see her more,” Wabiszewski said, adding his instructor waved him away.

Dive instructor Chad Sawyer spent six months in San Diego cage-diving with great whites, so Wabiszewski knew he should heed his warning.

Sawyer guessed the shark was female, saying she possibly appeared to be pregnant. The divers did not see any tags or identification marks on the shark.

“It was only scary once the shark was gone. The visibility on the wreck was not great so that made it interesting once she swam away. We did continue the dive and did a second dive hoping to see the great white shark again,” Wabiszewski said.

Accompanying him and Sawyer on the diver were diver Karen, and captains Skeeter and Michael operating the boat.