Shark attack sinks film

The Department of Environmental Affairs rescinded its approval of US documentary-maker Chris Fischer's permit to film Shark Men, after yesterday's fatal shark attack near Gordon's Bay. by Andile Ndlovu

The controversial project had already caused fears that it was attracting great white sharks to populated beaches in the picturesque city and its surrounds.

The City of Cape Town closed the Kogel Bay beach, between Gordon's Bay and Rooi Els, after the body of the 30-year-old shark attack victim was recovered.

"We have closed the beach because there are still great white sharks present," spokesman Kylie Hatton said.

The city said it was investigating and would provide more details when available.

Matt Marais, an experienced surfer, witnessed the incident.

He said a "huge and aggressive" shark attacked the body boarder twice before ripping his body apart .

"It was a horror show. It looked like something from the Jaws movie," he said.

"What was supposed to be a fun day at the beach turned out to be any surfer's worst nightmare and it happened in minutes, in front of my eyes."

The victim's brother was believed to have been in the water with him when the great white shark, said to be about 5m long, killed him. The man had been lying on his body board waiting for a wave to surf when a fin appeared, said Marais.

"I had just got out of the water when I saw the dorsal fin. The shark was huge and aggressive and just went for him, not once but three times.

"The first time the body-boarder fought back, trying to get the board between him and the shark. The second time it pulled him under. The third time it was as if someone pushed a button and the sea turned red."

Marais, who has been a surfer for 19 years, said the predator then hung around in the shallow water.

ER24 spokesman Andre Visser said when paramedics arrived at the scene the shark was still there and the man's leg was floating in the water.

Environmental Affairs spokesman Zolile Nqayi said that all filming operations had been stopped indefinitely. "Yes, obviously, this is linked to the unfortunate shark attack. I don't know what the future holds for the project, but for now it has been stopped," he said.

"What people don't know is that filming around False Bay stopped four days ago already, and the crew had moved to Struisbaai. There is a lot of high [tide] activity there and no need for chumming [throwing fish remains into the water to attract sharks]."

Nqayi admitted that residents were already in a state of "panic", prompting the entire project to be stopped.

The department had granted Fischer and his team a research permit because it felt it provided a "unique opportunity" - especially after its completion of a draft conservation plan for sharks.

In its press release, it said: "Elsewhere in False Bay no chumming is allowed within 2km of the coast. The amount of chum to be used in the bay has unfortunately been exaggerated in some statements."

Fischer has been in South Africa since March capturing and filming sharks for the National Geographic TV channel.

Eyewitness News reported yesterday that National Geographic had distanced itself from the project, saying it did not renew the series.

http://www.timeslive.co.za

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