A scuba diver died April 12 after what may have been a shark attack in waters off KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
The unidentified 68-year old man was diving with a charter group near Shelly Beach and Port Edward, but when the group surfaced, divers realized one man had disappeared.
Private boats in the vicinity were notified of the missing diver and began searching the area.
The National Sea Rescue Institute and Police Search Rescue were contacted at 1:45 p.m. and mobilized search vehicles.
“The NSRI Shelly Beach sea rescue craft Caltex Challenger and Spirit of Dawn, the NSRI Port Edward sea rescue craft Wild Coast Sun Rescuer, and a Police Search and Rescue boat launched to join a search operation already underway by multiple private boats and by charter boats, and on arrival on the scene a coordinated search, assisted also by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre), NSRI Durban and Telkom Maritime Radio Services, continued,” according to a report from NSRI.
“An extensive drift pattern and sweeping line search operation was conducted utilising the 3 sea rescue craft, the Police Search and Rescue boat, private boats, private fishing boats, and charter boats and Police divers conducted a scuba dive search.
“During the search the remains of the body of the man, believed to have been bitten by a shark, were located by crew of a private fishing boat, and the remains of the body were recovered from the water onto a sea rescue craft and brought to shore,” a NSRI news release stated.
“According to sources with knowledge of the search‚ only the remains of the man’s legs and wetsuit were recovered by the crew of a fishing boat. The bite pattern in the wetsuit was similar to that of a tiger shark,” The Times Live reported.
A pathologist will examine the remains. While evidence points to the diver having been bitten by a shark, it is possible he may have died while diving and his body scavenged by a shark.
Mike Anderson-Reid of the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks board, also quoted by The Times Live, said the difference between a shark attack and a scavenging event would be key to understanding what happened beneath the water.
There have been a total of 26 shark attack bites in 2017, 2 of which were fatal*; 11 were reported in the US, all 11 occurring in Florida. Six occurred in Australia, none of which was fatal. One with no injury and zero suspected attack bite.
*this event may be a scavenge.