Victim’s body needed to identify shark that attacked him

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Independent Newspapers

POSSIBLE ATTACKER: A bull shark, similar to the one that is thought to have attacked a bather at Port St Johns on Christmas Day.

Shark experts still do not know what type of shark killed a bather at Port St John’s on Christmas Day. They need to find his body to clear up the mystery of whether the shark was a bull or tiger shark.

The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board said in reaction to this latest death that this is the time of the year when sharks are most prevalent along the KwaZulu-Natal and Transkei coastline. Bathers who swim in areas equipped with shark nets and drum lines can almost rest assured of their safety.

This was the word from KZN Sharks Board operations head Mike Anderson-Reade after the shark attack on a 15-year-old boy at the Transkei resort town’s Second Beach.

Police divers searched in vain for his body, recovering only his shorts.

The National Sea Rescue Institute was alerted to sharks in the water about 2.30pm on Tuesday and lifeguards tried to get swimmers out of the water.

“The lifesavers were unable to get everyone out of the water fast enough and a boy was bitten. People said they saw a lot of blood in the water and then they couldn’t see him anymore. Officers found his shorts near where they think he went missing,” police spokesman Mduduzi Godlwana said.

Godlwana said the boy’s parents were distraught after hearing the news and had requested that no additional information be released to the media.

Conflicting media reports said the shark that attacked him was a bull or a tiger shark.

Anderson-Reade said that of six cases the KZN Sharks Board had investigated in recent years at Port St Johns, at least five had involved bull sharks – also known as Zambezi sharks – while one attacker may have been a tiger shark.

“But without looking at the deceased, it is mere speculation. I think in all probability it may have been a bull shark or a white shark.”

SIX ATTACKS IN THREE YEARS

This attack would bring the tally of shark attacks in the area to at least six over the past three years. These include:

- January 15, 2012, Ngidi Msungubana, 25, was killed in the sixth fatal shark attack at the beach in six years.

- January 17, 2011, 16-year-old surfer Zama Ndamase was killed by a shark in almost the same spot.

- January 2009, Wild Coast lifeguard Sikhanyiso Bangilizwe, 27, died when a shark attacked him.

- March 2009, 16-year-old surfer Mangele Luyolo was bitten and killed by a shark.

Anderson-Reade said 16 species of shark along the coast were potentially harmful due to their size. Of them, only three were considered dangerous – the bull shark, the tiger shark and the white shark.

“Shark nets do their job, and have proven it over time, but obviously there is no 100 percent guarantee when you are dealing with nature. Shark nets and drum lines have proved their work in South Africa and Australia. Shark gear has an excellent track record, and if you swim at beaches that have it you will be safe.”

Anderson-Reade said most of the sharks along the coast were summer sharks, although white sharks were prevalent all year.

“Before the days of shark nets, the attacks were very close inshore, and we have had attacks from bull sharks in waist-deep water. White sharks occur beyond backline, and attacks are mostly of surfers.”

Anderson-Reade said it was not easy to evacuate the water when a shark was spotted, because swimmers were in a festive mood and it was usually very noisy on the beachfront.

He said bull sharks were also attracted to turbid water after rains, because of the possibility of animal body parts being washed down the rivers.

The KZN Sharks Board holds the shark attack file for South Africa and feeds its records to the international shark-attack file, held in Florida in the US.

Anderson-Reade said the board was involved only in preventative measures in KZN, the only province in the country with the service.

It had been set up after KZN felt an economic downturn when it was hit by shark attacks from 1957 to 1958.

“People literally packed up and left and the local tourism economy took a knock.” -Weekend Argus


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