Cape Town - Stellenbosch University scientists have developed an eco-friendly shark barrier which can be used as an alternative to a shark net.
The barrier is called “Sharksafe”.
CONDOLENCES have started pouring in for the family of a tourist killed by a shark on Tuesday and at the same time a review detailing his attack has been compiled.
The review is expected to be released within a few days.
Lloyd Skinner, 37, an engineer from Harare, Zimbabwe, and a UCT MBA graduate, was killed in front of a number of beach-goers two days ago while swimming at Fish Hoek.
On Skinner’s Facebook account yesterday a friend, Gayle Reid, said: “Devastated by the news about Lloyd Skinner, taken by a shark on Fish Hoek beach yesterday, such a wonderful guy, so so sorry, love to his family.”
Another friend, Cheryl Diane Nicholls, wrote: “My dear Skinner family, so sad and crushed, my love and thoughts and prayers are with you all.”
Clint Skinner, a relative, replied that the wishes and thoughts were “all we needed”.
He said relatives, including Skinner’s parents, John and Maggie, were flying to Cape Town.
Skinner’s Facebook account said he was in a relationship with Debra Paine. A woman was at the beach at the time of the attack, but The Mercury was unable to confirm her identity yesterday.
She was receiving trauma counselling yesterday.
Gregg Oelofse, head of the city’s environmental policy and strategy, said he had last night completed a review, based on information from witnesses, rescuers and others, on Tuesday’s attack.
He said it would be made public possibly by tomorrow.
Oelofse and Western Cape Finance, Economic Development and Tourism MEC Alan Winde extended their condolences to Skinner’s family.
Ian Klopper, the National Sea Rescue Institute’s helicopter duty commander, said an intense search was underway to try to find Skinner’s body.
He said a number of people had called in to say they had seen body parts in the water, but rescuers had not found |anything.
“We don’t expect to find anything,” Klopper said.
Klopper said Tuesday’s attack was “very out of character” as sharks usually bit their prey only once
Shark nets were introduced to reduce the number of shark attacks on swimmers but they have resulted in the death of other sea animals including dolphins andturtles.
Countries including Australia, Japan and the US are looking at alternatives to shark nets while in Cape Town new shark exclusion nets which can be removed daily have also been developed.
Professor Conrad Matthee, head of the Department of Botany and Zoology, said shark numbers had decreased by up to 90 percent over the past 20 years, “particularly the number of great white sharks”.
“Sharks are top predators and if they were to be taken out of the ecosystem, the latter will be disrupted. ”
The barrier is made of rigid upright pipes which resemble kelp when it floats in the water.
“The structure also contains magnets to make it effective for various shark species. The pipes are anchored to the seabed and stand upright up to the height of the water level during high tide.”
Matthee said a magnetic barrier that resembled kelp had been chosen because certain shark species, such as the Zambezi shark found in KwaZulu-Natal, were sensitive to strong permanent magnetic fields, while others, like the great white shark in the Cape waters, did not like kelp at all.
“We, for instance, saw how seals chased by sharks swam into kelp and how the sharks time and time again turned away, not entering the kelp areas” Matthee said.
During research, the team put bait behind the barrier to attract sharks but no sharks swam through the barrier.
The sharks were also deterred by the magnetic fields, he said. - Cape Argus