Jeffreys Bay Shark Attack

Fri, 11 October 2013 – source wavescape.co.za

A man swimming off Surfers’ Point, Jeffreys Bay, has died in a shark attack. Eye witnesses claim the man was bitten in two and died instantly. The NSRI confirmed that remains of a body has been retrieved.

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sharkattack 620Craig Lambinon from the NSRI confirmed to Wavescape that a fatal attack had taken place at Point to a snorkeller, and that they were on the scene. See their press statement below.

A resident said he spoke to a member of the Supertubes Foundation, who said the victim was a swimmer with a blue bathing cap. He was apparently swimming close to the rocks, when a single, large shark attacked him and pulled him out to deeper water. A local surfer, Terry Olivier, was out on his sea kayak paddling from the Kabeljous side lower down the point when he apparently saw the man lying with his head down in the water.

Terry saw the shark, which he said was longer than his kayak. He tried to retrieve the body but the shark did not let go. He hit it with his oars, but it kept coming back.

According to some witnesses, the shark was mistaken for two sharks because the distance between tail and back fin was so long. The NSRI raced to the scene and apparently circled the remains on jetskis to guard over the victim’s remains until they could get a body bag.

Resident Paul van Jaarsveld said: “We are all in shock. I was about to get in the water to shoot a fish for lunch.”

There were two snorkellers and a few surfers out in the water, apparently oblivious to the incident, which was seen from the shore by several bystanders.

The NSRI sent out this official release:

At approximately 11h30 (Friday, 11 October) NSRI Jeffreys Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following reports of a shark incident at Lower Point, next to Albatros Beach, Jeffreys Bay.

NSRI Jeffreys Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched 2 sea rescue craft and the SA Police Services responded

On arrival on-scene remains of a body, believed to be those of an adult male, have been recovered from the water and handed into the care of the Police and the Forensic Pathology Services.

It appears, according to eye-witness reports, that the as yet unidentified male victim had been snorkeling at the time of the incident.

Police are investigating.

Sat, 12 October 2013

Family, friends and the Jeffrey’s Bay community are mourning the death of Burgert van der Westhuizen, 74, an avid open water swimmer, who was killed by a large shark on Friday morning at lower Point. His name was released early this morning.

burgert van der westhuizen with fellow swimmers

Many residents and holiday goers were in a state of panic after they witnessed or heard about a shark attack in Jeffreys Bay yesterday. Due to the severity of the attack, it was not possible to identify him and people frantically called around to locate their missing friends and loved ones. The only information available from eye witness accounts was that he was wearing a blue swim cap and that he was of an older age.

Amongst the confusion, word came from the NSRI that it was a snorkeller and not a swimmer which caused a greater stirr. Media also reported that it was a snorkeller. There were rumours of two shark attacks, or that it was two sharks. This was later corrected after it was noted that due to the size of the single shark, the tail seemed like another dorsal fin.

burgert van der westhuizen shark attack victim jeffreys bayAs the day progressed, many were relieved to find out that their friends and relatives were in safe. Unfortunately for the wife, family and friends of Burgert van der Westhuizen, he did not return return home and did not answer phone calls.

Burgert, who had started training for the coming open water swim season, had a regular swimming routine. He would park his vehicle at the petrol service station, and then walk down to the beach and enter the water from Boneyards across Checkers. Burgert was aiming to swim to the next beach break to the East towards Kabeljouws at Albatross and was two thirds of his way when the shark attacked him.

Several bystanders witnessed the attack, including a domestic worker, some people who were watching whales and Orcas with binoculars and members of the Supertubes Foundation. After Burgert had perished, a local surfer, Terry Olivier who was on his sea kayak paddling by, tried to fend off the shark, to no avail.

The South African Police and NSRI was contacted and on the scene within minutes and handled the situation with respect and professionality. When it became clear later in the day that it was Burgert who had passed away, it was decided to withold his name till all relatives and friends were informed.

The Kouga Municipality closed all beaches in Jeffrey’s Bay till further notice, and a surf competition to be held today at Kitchen Windows has been postponed to a later date.

This is the first fatal shark attack in Jeffreys Bay, although there has been many incidents with sharks in the region. This attack occurred in very clean conditions. Local divers and spear fishermen reported visibility of up to 20m in the preceding two days, with very little swell around.

Spear fishermen also remarked that fish seemed skittish and nervous making it hard to get a catch in the preceding days. There was also lots of marine activity with several whales in the bay and even killer whales in the outer area. Local fishermen also caught several large Kabeljou in the preceding week.

Wavescape would like to extent our sincere condolences to Burgert’s friends and family and our thoughts and prayers are with you.