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Snorkeling was Mike Fraser's favorite way of relaxing from his job. He was the leader of a weather station on Campbell Island, one of the most isolated places on earth. A speck of land between New Zealand and Antarctica, the island is normally lashed by westerly gales. But on April 24, 1992, the sea was brilliant blue and the wind a gentle breeze.

As his four teammates snorkeled in the shallows, Fraser finned his way to 40 yards offshore. He relished the feeling of oneness with nature. Fraser scanned the ocean bed to familiarize himself with the depth of the bay so that he might swim with the southern right whales when they came to breed in the winter. He was relaxed. Large sharks were unknown here.

After half an hour, Fraser had seen enough. It was about 3.30 p.m. He stopped kicking and let himself drift. Thud! A huge weight slammed into his right shoulder. Fraser was flung forward, gasping for breath. 'Must be a big bull sea-lion,' he thought. An instant later he was hurled upwards, and held waist-high above the water. Then Fraser looked down. Clamped around his right arm were the 2 1/2-foot-wide jaws of a huge shark.

Instinctively, Fraser swung his left arm around and punched furiously at the creature's huge, pointed snout. 'I must warn the others,' he thought. 'Shark!' he screamed. But his cry became a silent stream of bubbles as the monster dragged him under.

Fraser's second-in-command, meteorologist Linda Danen was snorkeling 15 yards nearer the shore with conservation officer Jacinda Amey, electronic technician Robin Humphrey and mechanic Gus McAllister. All they could hear beneath the sea was the steady rush of their own breathing. Then came a faint, muffled cry. The swimmers surfaced and scanned the horizon. Nothing.

Suddenly, there was an explosion of spray. Fraser erupted from the sea, yelling and fighting ferociously. The four froze at the sight of the water. Then, chillingly, it opened and closed its mouth around Fraser as if testing the consistency of his flesh. Judging by its head, the monster was at least 13 feet long and about 1,300 pounds of muscle and gristle. Daren watched helplessly as the shark pulled Fraser beneath the waves.

As he went under, Fraser realized death was only seconds away. 'If you don't free yourself now, you're gone', he thought. He raised his knees, then gave a powerful kick to the pale underside of the monster's mouth. He kicked again, and again, tugging desperately at his trapped arm. The shark shook him, its teeth meshing like shears as they ground deep into his flesh. Fraser kicked again. Suddenly, he felt a hard wrench and he rolled clear.

Instantly, Fraser rocketed upwards. As his head broke the water's surface, he sucked in air and kicked frantically for the shore. But as he ploughed through the water, his body reacted strangely. He looked down at his right arm. It's gone! There was nothing below the elbow except a shredded stump that pumped spurts of bright red arterial blood into the sea. Fraser knew that his only hope lay in getting to his teammates before he bled to death.

Fraser's instincts urged him to swim to shore as fast as he could. But years of living in remote places had taught him not to panic. He knew that every beat of his heart pumped more blood into the sea. So, to avoid panic, he forced himself to give measured kicks. Then, suddenly, Fraser felt a tug on his neck.

He turned and looked into a diving mask. Jacinda! Why didn't she go to the shore? He thought as she slipped her body under his and began to pull him to the shore. Waiting there, the other teammates lifted the wounded man out of the water.

   
Answer the following questions using complete sentences
  1.

From paragraph 1, what kind of job did Fraser do ?

  2.

From paragraph 3,

a) where was Fraser snorkelling when he was attacked ?

b) give 2 reasons why Fraser was away from his friends.

  3.

From paragraph 3,

a) what hurled Fraser upwards ?

b) which word means 'throw' ?

  4.

From paragraph 8,

a) why did Fraser's body react strangely ?

b) what made him give only measured kicks instead of swimming hurriedly to the shore ?

  5.

In your own words, explain what you understand by 'If you don't free yourself now, you're gone.'

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Answers
 

1.

Fraser was the leader of a weather station on Campbell Island.

 

2.

a) 40 yards offshore

b)(i) He relished the feeling of oneness with nature. (ii) To familiarize himself with the depth of the bay

 

3.

a) A huge shark

b) flung

 

4.

a) His arm was gone.

b) If he swam fast, his heart would pump more blood into the sea.

 

5.

Fraser realized that he had to do something to save his life. He had to fight for his life or he would soon be dead.

 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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