Shark bite reported at Cape St. Francis

Local authorities are warning beach goers not to enter the water at St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis after a surfer was bitten by a shark at Cape St Francis Beach, South Africa.

Photo: Morne Fischer

Ross Spowart was surfing close to shore at Seal Point beach break around 3:00 p.m. when he was bitten on the knee.

“The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) crew responded to the scene where the surfer was found to already be on the beach after friends and fellow surfers assisted him from the water and local Municipal lifeguards had initiated medical care treating the patient for shock and for lacerations to his left knee and below the left knee and placing the patient on a stretcher,” NSRI St Francis Bay deputy station commander Stuart Obray said.

NSRI team medics and doctor used a shark bite kit stored at the beach to treat the 19-year-old with the assistance of lifeguards.

Spowart was then transported with members of his family to the hospital by private ambulance in stable condition.

Obray said they species of shark was unknown but based on the injures was thought to be relatively small.

There has been concern that a shark fishing boat may have drawn the shark into the area.

“Local authorities were appealed to investigate licensed shark fishing being conducted nearby from a fishing boat using a chumming method to determine if this activity may contribute to increased shark activity in close proximity to recreational beaches during the school vacation,“ said Obray.

Chum or burley, which normally consist of fish parts, is used to lure sharks to an area as it drifts with the current.

Obray also thanked those who came to the aid of the surfer saying, “The surfers who assisted to get the teenager out of the water and the local lifeguards who immediately initiated medical treatment are commended for their swift actions.”

Although this is the first shark attack bite reported in South Africa this year, there has been another interesting shark interaction this.

Eton Polly was shark diving with two friends February 24 off Durban, when a blacktip shark became a little too curious.

The 9-foot-long shark bumped one diver and was quickly pushed away. The shark then charged a second diver who was filming the interaction with his GoPro camera.

While neither diver was seriously injured, the cameraman’s mask and regulator were knocked off.

2017 had a total of five known shark interactions, including two fatalities.

The first occurred on February 16 when Murray van Wyk was knocked into the water off Eastmoor Crescent Beach. Van Wyk was unharmed, but video from the scene showed a large bite mark left on his kayak.

The first possible fatal shark attack occurred near Shelly Beach and Port Edward off KwaZulu-Natal. Master scuba instructor Leopold Mairhuber was diving with a group from Dr. Erich Ritter’s Shark School.

When the group surfaced they realized Mairhuber was not among them. NSRI and Police Search Rescue boats began a search and a private vessel ultimately found the remains. The remains had been partially consumed, so an autopsy could not be performed. It Is possible Mr. Mairhuber died of another injury and his body scavenged.

On April 29, a surfer was bitten at The Waves in Keurbooms, which is about 80 miles west of Cape St Francis Beach. The 14-year-old was bitten on his right calf by what is believed to have been a roughly five-foot-long great white shark.

13-year-old Zoe Steyn was knocked off her board by a suspected 10-foot-long great white shark.

On September 3 Sivuyile Xelela was killed by a shark while swimming to Dyer Island. As he was leading a group to the island to hunt abalone, he was hit by a shark and drug underwater.

There have been a total of 14 shark attack bites* in 2018, 0 of which were fatal**; 1 were reported in the US, with 0 occurring in Florida and 1 in Hawaii. Seven have been reported in Australia, none of which was fatal. One unconfirmed worldwide and not included in the total count.

All locations have been marked on the 2018 Shark Attack Bites Tracking Map.

*Four with no injury **one possible scavenge

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