Coast diver reveals how he was stranded at sea for 17 hours

LATEST: MAROOCHYDORE scuba diver Les Brierley has opened up about his terrifying 17-hour ordeal in shark-infested waters off Townsville. 

Mr Brierley, 68, who failed to return after diving at the wreck of the SS Yongola in the Coral Sea on Sunday, was moved to tears talking to 7 Local News about his night in the water. 

"When I surfaced … I was like two or three metres behind the dinghy and I thought 'wow, this isn't a good situation'," he said.

"I was swimming as hard as I could and the current was holding me and I just couldn't make it.

"To cover myself I've always carried a personal locator beacon (PBL) in a waterproof case on my tank.

"So I thought now's the time to set the PLB off. So I opened the case and it was empty."

Rescue crews pulled Mr Brierley from the water on Monday after spending the night - a total of 17 hours - in the water. 

EARLIER: A SUNSHINE Coast scuba diver has been rescued after spending more than 17 hours in shark-infested waters off Townsville.

The 68-year-old Maroochydore man was diving at the wreck of the SS Yongola in the Coral Sea when he failed to return.

Rescue crews launched about 8.45pm on Sunday and searched through the night but were unable to locate him.

Another crew spent more than an hour the next morning and had started the trip back to Townsville when he was spotted about 11am yesterday.

He was more than 50km south of where he went missing.

"I said to him, 'G'day mate, do you want a lift?'" rescuer Alan Griffiths said, recalling the moment he was winched down to get the diver from the water.

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