Friday 9 December 2016

Beach closed as 'pitbull' sharks kill again

Aislinn Laing in Port St Johns, South Africa

Published 21/01/2012 | 05:00

AT first glance, there is nothing unusual about the beach on South Africa's Indian Ocean coast.

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However, all visitors have been barred from entering the water at Second Beach in Port St Johns.

On Sunday, Lungisani Msungubana ( 25) died while swimming with a group of friends in shallow water. He had sustained "multiple traumatic lacerations to his torso, arms and legs".

He had become the sixth victim in just over five years of the sharks that have made this popular seaside spot the most dangerous beach in the world for such attacks.

In South Africa, one in five shark attacks ends in death but every attack at Second Beach has been fatal. Fierce Zambezi or bull sharks, known as "pitbulls of the ocean", have been blamed for most of the incidents.

Until recently, all the victims had been surfers and lifeguards who swam out to sea, but Mr Msungubana was just waist-deep in the water when he was taken.

Experts from the KwaZulu Natal Sharks Board have been brought in to try to put a stop to the problem and the town authorities have closed the beach to swimmers.

Geremy Cliff, who is leading the study, said: "We are also looking for clues as to what might have changed in terms of human behaviour and environmental factors, but I don't know that we are ever going to be able to successfully explain what is happening. Often it's just a case of keeping your fingers crossed and hoping the problem goes away."

Mr Msungubana was killed exactly a year to the day of the previous fatal attack.

Zama Ndamase (16) was dragged underwater as he waited for a wave one morning with his brother. Avuyile. They were members of the provincial surfing team.

Every guesthouse owner, surfer and restaurant manager in town has a different theory for what caused the attacks.

One is that local sangomas, or witchdoctors, who sacrifice animals on the beach and throw their entrails into the sea, are drawing in the sharks.

Some believe pollution is attracting predators. Others think the rotting carcass of a whale shark, buried at the beach 10 years ago, could be to blame for the sharks' aggression.

Rod Hastier, who worked with the Natal Sharks Board, said Zambezi sharks, which can grow to 13 feet long, were notoriously pugnacious. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

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