Woman missing after shark attack in Fish Hoek

By Time of article published Nov 15, 2004

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By Wendell Roelf

An eyewitness to a presumed Great White shark attack along the False Bay coastline on Monday morning described how the shark circled its prey and tore into an elderly female bather.

"All that was left was a little red bathing cap," said False Bay Yacht Club rear commodore Paul Dennett, who witnessed the attack from his home, about 100m from where the bloodied water was dissipating.

Dennett said that at about 7am he saw a lot of thrashing in the water, about 20m off the shoreline of Fish Hoek Beach.

He went outside and saw the shark attacking something, which he initially suspected was a seal.

"Then I saw somebody in the water; there was a helluva lot of blood."

Dennett said he immediately called rescue services to raise the alarm.

"I then saw the shark circle around the victim... and then in just one big mouth, and not even breaching the water, took her in," said Dennett.

Dennett said in all his life he had never seen a shark as big, estimating it to be at least six metres long.

His fiance and her daughter, who also witnessed the attack, were traumatised and receiving counselling.

Dennett said that during the attack they screamed to other bathers enjoying their ritual early morning swim to get out of the water.

On average there are about 30 to 40 swimmers in the water early morning.

Meanwhile, a Metro emergency helicopter sent to the scene of the shark attack returned to base without locating the pensioner, aged either 76 or 77.

National Sea Rescue Institute and other emergency service personnel were still at the scene.

NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said a full scale search was under way for the woman.

Lambinon said a shark had been spotted in the vicinity of Clovelly, near Fish Hoek.

"The shark is bigger than the helicopter... it is huge," he said.

Lambinon said the woman had been identified, but her name would not be released until her next of kin was informed.

The last shark attack in the same vicinity was in April this year when a 16-year-old surfer was attacked off Muizenberg beach.

JP Andrew was in a critical condition after losing his right leg in the Great White's attack, but has made a remarkable recovery. - Sapa

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