Durban - A surfer has been rushed to hospital after being bitten on his leg by a shark on East Beach in Port Alfred on Wednesday.
The incident happened at 10.30 am and the beach has since been temporarily closed to bathers and surfers said Craig Lambinon, a spokesperson for the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI)
“The surfer was bitten on the leg by what appeared to be a juvenile white shark. The surfer believed to be in his 20's had safely made it to the shore. He was transported to a hospital where he is in a stable condition,” he said.
The extent of the bite wound was not yet known.
Lambinon said the Ndlambe Local Municipality and police were at the beach monitoring the situation.
In KwaZulu-Natal remora fish also called sharksucker or suckerfish noted for attaching themselves to, and riding about on, sharks have been spotted by anglers after sightings of sharks on the coastline.
While it is normal for sharks to visit the shore during the annual sardine, retired KZN Sharks Board head of Research Planning and Development Geremy Cliff said that while there are sightings anglers have nothing to worry about.
“There is no need to panic until further notice because sucker fish do not really bring the sharks ashore, sardines do”, he said.
“Remora fish are known to swim on their own,'' he added stating that remora also known as suckerfish for their sucker-like organ mouth with slat-like structures that open and close to create suction and take a firm hold against the skin of larger marine animals and boats may be the reason of the recent sightings and not that of sharks.
Operations Manager at KZN Sharks Board Greg Thompson said that sardines cause sharks to come a bit closer to shore forcing beaches to temporarily close during this time.
“There have been reports of shark sightings with some of the sardine pockets which is quite normal during a sardine run. Rock and surf anglers have also managed to catch and release a few off the beaches too”, he said.
“At the moment bathing is banned at all beaches from Ansteys beach on the Bluff to Umtentweni on the south coast”, he added.
The shark nets have also temporarily been removed from Ansteys beach to Port Edward’s Silver Beach. “We will continue to monitor the sardine activity and will only replace netting when the activity disappears,” said Thompson.
Thompson also pleaded with members of the public that if they are unsure about the bathing status at beaches to please confirm with the lifeguards before entering the water.
Riaz Khan chairperson of KwaZulu-Natal subsistence fishing forum said he had already been receiving videos of sharks in the water in uMgababa on the South Coast.
He said there were also game fishermen who would catch and release some sharks for fun.
Khan said some of the species of Sharks that were caught were hammerheads, blacktip and Bronze Whaler sharks. Khan said with the sardines shoals here it was almost guaranteed that they would be able to catch the sharks.
He also noted that although most fishermen ensured that they were safe when conducting their activities, there was always the odd person who got bitten due to negligence.
Khan said the amount of sardines that people were seeing were just small pockets and that many more were on their way up the coast. He added that the bigger shoals could come through if the temperatures were low enough for them to move up. Temperatures would also affect the length of the sardine season, he said.
Yaseen Khan who found the fish said sharks would not be a problem if the necessary precautions were taken. "People need to respect the ocean and its inhabitants. If more awareness is created I don't see any problems," he said.