The shark which killed champion bodyboarder David Lilienfeld was not one of the four great whites tagged by researchers early this week - and the City of Cape Town says it can prove this.
This was disclosed in a lengthy report late yesterday afternoon by the city’s Gregg Oelofse, acting manager of Environmental Policy, Strategy, Communications, Education and Livelihoods.
As allegations circulated on social media that the controversial shark research project had somehow “caused” the attack, Oelofse reported: “During the attack the shark’s dorsal fin broke the surface (as reported by witness Mat Marais). If this shark had been one of the tagged sharks, the satellite transmitter would have given off a signal that would have been recorded on the system and located the shark at Kogel Bay.
“On assessing the data, no satellite records exist for that area. Two of the sharks tagged in False Bay have given off signals and were located in the Macassar/Strandfontein area shortly before the attack. The lack of satellite signal is clear information that the shark involved in the attack is not one of the sharks tagged by the Ocearch Research Programme.”
Oelofse stressed that the city had played “no role in the issuing of the Ocearch/ Sharkmen permit, and did not participate in the programme”, but said on the chumming controversy: “The small and limited chumming by Ocearch would not have attracted additional sharks to False Bay as the amount of chum used is insignificant in comparison to natural chum sources in the bay, including the natural chum slick emanating from Seal Island, fishing activities in False Bay, by-products from Kalk Bay harbour, as well as the small and immaterial chumming by permitted cage divers.
“Furthermore, the Ocearch Programme operated in False Bay at Seal Island on Sunday and Monday. The wind direction has been strong south-east throughout the week. Any residual chum from their activities would have dissipated within hours and, due to the wind direction, moved from the island in an opposite direction to that of Kogel Bay.
“As a result, there is no evidence or reason to suggest that the tagging of four white sharks over a period of 24 hours from Sunday, 15 April, to Monday, 16 April, in False Bay ... had any role to play in the tragic events that occurred at Caves.”
Having considered all the factors involved in the attack, Oelofse said “the fatal shark attack could not have been avoided within reasonable means”.
“Cape Town is a city of 3.5 million people residing along a coastline which forms the natural habitat for white sharks. An unfortunate, tragic and regrettable result of this will be that, on occasion, shark attacks will occur.”
Notwithstanding this, Oelofse reported that the Shark Spotting Programme would be undertaking a detailed assessment of what would be required to install a full-time shark-spotting service at “Caves”. This would be done immediately, and would take in considerations of how much such a programme would cost, logistics - such as how to transport staff to the site for daily shifts - and facilities for the watchers.
Oelofse said this urgent report would ideally be completed in the next 10 days. Immediately, though, “Shark Smart” information signs would be installed at all access points along the road to “Caves”.
- Saturday Argus