CAPE TOWN, GORDONSBAY – WORLD NEWS TOMORROW:On Thursday, April 19th, 20-year-old Springbok bodyboarder Dave Lilienfeld was attacked by what eyewitness call a Great White shark between 10 and 12 feet long in Cape Town. The shark severed David’s right leg and attacked him three times before remaining in the area for 40 minutes and then heading out to deeper water.Lilienfeld was surfing at the popular spot Caves, a righthand wedging little barrel at Kogel Bay on the Eastern side of False Bay. He was in the water with his brother Gustav, who was unable to reach David after the attack due to wave action, and David’s body washed on shore where bystanders pulled it up. He was dead on the scene.
The police’s Andre Traut said, “An inquest case docket has been registered and the circumstances surrounding his death will be investigated.”
This was the second documented attack at this location, and there have been other serious shark attacks in the Cape Town area, including Fishoek, Clovelly, Scarborough, Noordhoek and Sunrise Beach and Pringle Bay. There have been less serious attacks at Muizenberg, Milnerton, Cape Point, and Arniston, to name a few others. All of these beaches are great surfing locations. There are simply a lot of sharks around.
So much so that Chris Fischer and the Ocearch crew came to Cape Town to film their National Geographic documentary Shark Men. The show included chumming five tons of fish product into the water to attract sharks, then catching and tagging the sharks and filming the entire procedure. They were given official permits to chum for the sharks in False Bay, popular with ocean goers.
There had been huge amounts of public outcry with regards to the filming of the documentary. And when Alan Boyd, director of Biodiversity and Coastal Research at the Department of Fisheries granted the permit, people like local shark expert Dr Dirk Schmidt and watersports promoter Paul Botha sent out numerous shark advisories and shark warnings, informing the public of possible increased shark activity. Concerned parents were furious about the risk to their children surfing at False Bay surfing beaches, and social media was awash with angry complaints and comments.
Boyd revoked the permit as soon as the news of the attack broke, while Chris Fischer commented about the attack and the fact that it was not related to his work on their Shark Men Facebook Fan Page.
Sharks have always been an underlying part of surfing in Cape Town. There are shark sightings everywhere, and the Shark Spotters program — a community group who are situated at various view spots at various popular Cape Town beaches — are constantly activating their sirens and urging everyone out of the water as sharks are regularly spotted. Everyone who surfs regularly in Cape Town has a shark story.
Right now the surfers and concerned parties in South Africa are mourning the loss of one of their tribe, and they are angry. Whether Alan Boyd and Chris Fischer are in some way responsible for this death can never fully be ascertained.
“I can only hope that a full investigation, into all possible factors bearing relevance to this attack, are fully, and independently investigated, and that action is taken to prevent the ignorance displayed by certain individuals from being repeated, and that those individuals are held responsible for their actions,” said Dr Schmidt.
Condolences to the Lilienfeld family and friends.