Diver attacked by Conger eel

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A deep sea diver is lucky to be alive after he was attacked by a Conger eel, which bit a huge chunk of flesh from his cheek.

The six foot eel clamped down on Jimmy Griffin's face while he was 25m underwater on an expedition off the west coast of Ireland.

"Suddenly I got hit with what felt like a really strong punch in the face. I felt like a rag doll," he told the Irish Independent.

"It gripped on to my face and threw me about violently. It was biting, pulling and twisting on my face," he said.

Fortunately, Mr Griffin (48) has 20 years of diving experience behind him. His regulator was knocked out of his mouth in the attack, but he realised that to panic could cause him to drown.

He wrestled with the eel underwater, but it wasn't until it finally let go and swam off that he got a good look at his attacker, which he described as bigger than himself and about the width of a human thigh.

Despite his injuries, he then had to surface slowly to avoid the risk of decompression sickness, known as the bends.

He was taken to University Hospital Galway. He said: "I owe my life to a lot of people, the skipper of the boat and the lads in Scuba Dive West, they watched over me until the ambulance came.

"The plastic surgeons have done a fantastic job. I don't even know how many stitches I have on both the inside and outside of mouth but they say the scar will eventually be unnoticeable."

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