Cape Town - A Cape Town surfer bitten by a shark on Monday is recovering after undergoing minor surgery.
The teenager – whose family has not released his name – was surfing with two friends at Die Plaat, just west of De Kelders in Walker Bay, on Monday morning. Hermanus is on the far-western side of the same bay.
Witness Brian Kilbey told the Cape Argus: “It was about 8.45am, with around head-high waves. The others had paddled out, but I was the last one to paddle out – I was still stretching on the beach – when I heard a shout. I looked up and couldn’t work out what was going on at first. There was a thrashing – evidently a tail fin – very near to one of the surfers.”
Kilbey estimated the shark to be about three metres long.
“I could see from the distance between the tail and the mouth that it was a decent-sized shark,” Kilbey said.
“It thrashed around quite a bit, but fortunately a set of waves came through and two of my fellow surfers caught the wave in.”
The third friend had been a little further out and caught the next wave in.
“(The surfer) who had been bitten first sat down and we checked the wound, on his left thigh,” Kilbey said.
“What seems to have happened is that it first bumped him and then turned round to bite. The lower jaw got the board and the top jaw his thigh.”
There were a series of puncture marks on the surfer’s leg.
“We tried to carry him a couple of times, but he was better off walking.”
A friend drove the injured surfer to a Hermanus hospital.
Kilbey, meanwhile, had contacted the Overstrand Municipality as well as Shark Spotters. The public were warned on social media sites and at the scene to be wary for a few hours.
“It was scary, but we’re not over-reacting,” said Kilbey.
“I’m going to surf again as soon as I can. Possibly not there for a while, but we’ll all be back in the water soon.
“I’ve been a regular surfer for 18 years. I’ve surfed some spots which should be a lot sharkier than that spot, and this is the first time I’ve seen a shark in 18 years. I know they’re always around, and that this was not a ‘shark attack’, just a random interaction with nature.”
Alison Kock, research manager for Shark Spotters, Cape Town, said: “According to a witness report, at approximately 9am a 19-year-old boy was surfing with friends when a shark approached him while he was sitting on his board waiting for a wave. The shark, estimated to be between 3m to 4m, bit him on the left thigh.”
Kock said that based on descriptions, it was believed the shark was a great white.
“Water users are reminded that …this is the peak time of year when sharks move closer to shore to follow schools of fish and smaller sharks and rays.
“When using the ocean one needs to remain vigilant at all times.
“The risk of a shark bite remains extremely low, but to reduce the risk further, follow safety tips available on sharkspotters.org.za.”