Shark attacks source of alert
In the wake of another reported shark incident, the False Bay coastline between Kalk Bay and Muizenberg was lined with municipal officers and extra shark spotters on Wednesday, urging people not to enter the water.The second report of an encounter came on Tuesday, after the attack on lifeguard Achmat Hassiem, who lost his foot in a shark attack off Sunrise Beach on Sunday.Gregg Oelofse, the City of Cape Town's environmental policy and research co-ordinator, said the latest encounter was reported on the reef off Danger Beach, between Muizenberg and St James.
'I just went numb when I saw the shark and paddled as fast as I could to shore'According to witness reports, surfers said a shark had approached a surfer's board from the rear and chewed through his leash, but left the surfer unharmed.The Cape Argus was contacted by surfers at the scene.
Surfer Byron Moncrieff identified the surfer nudged by the shark as Richard Whitaker.He told the Cape Argus that he was metres away from Whitaker when he heard his screams."I looked up and then I saw the shark. Somehow he managed to get away without being bitten and it only bit his leash.
'Exercise extreme caution'He estimated the shark to be three metres long."I just went numb when I saw the shark and paddled as fast as I could to shore." Oelofse said: "A surfer, Brian Hope, interviewed the alleged victim following the incident and photographed the victim's surf-board leash, which is apparently torn in two."According to Brian, approximately 15 surfers at the surf spot at the time all left the water following this incident."We're struggling to get more details, but at the moment we're taking it at face value."Shortly after the reported incident, a spotter at Muizenberg raised the alarm when he saw a shark cruising towards Muizenberg from St James, where the incident was reported."The timing does correlate," Oelofse.
"He immediately closed Muizenberg, so the shark-spotting programme worked well."After Tuesday's incident, more staff were deployed on the coastline this morning."In addition to the normal shark watchers, we've had extra nature conservation staff down at St James and Kalk Bay reef, as a precautionary measure, since about 7.30 this (Wednesday) morning," Oelofse said."Their instructions are to approach anyone going into the water and caution them that at the moment we would recommend (that) they not to surf or swim in the area."
Oelofse said his team was situating a new shark spotter at St James. "We're identifying a spot and organising a siren, flag and staff," he said.This week's shark activity has prompted debates on how best to protect bathers from shark attacks, with some calling for selective culling.But Oelofse, also a representative of the Shark Working Group, appealed to the public to exercise caution in the False Bay area."
The Shark Working Group are appealing to bathers, surfers, paddlers and boaters along the False Bay Coast to exercise extreme caution along this stretch of the False Bay coastline due to this alleged incident and the two recent incidents involving sharks. The last incident before the drama this week came last year, when a great white shark bit off part of a surfski paddled by Trevor Wright.