Update: Just before lunchtime today (Friday, 11 October), the calmness of a beautiful day in Jeffreys Bay was shattered when a swimmer was fatally attacked by a shark off the Point.
According to eyewitness reports, Burgert van der Westhuizen is believed to have been swimming from Boneyards, past Impossibles and was in the vicinity of the Point when he was attacked and killed by a large shark. The 74-year-old J-Bay resident was a dedicated open water swimmer.
Lloyd Coetzer, who was out at the Point surfing with a friend when the attack happened, gave the following account:
“The swimmer came past us. I paddled for my first wave and saw the guy still swimming out the corner of my eye. As I came to the end of my ride a few okes came running on the beach and waving there arms. I turned around and all I saw was a huge black fin. One second the swimmer was there, the next he was gone.”
Onlookers watched in horror as initial reports claimed the victim was attacked by what appeared to be two sharks, but this was later refuted. It’s believed the shark was a great white in excess of four metres and the large distance between the dorsal fin and the tail created the confusion.
The attack was brutal, with the shark repeatedly attacking the victim despite the efforts of a kayaker to fend it off and recover the body.
It has been speculated that higher-than-normal sea temperatures could be a factor leading to increased marine activity in the area. According to research by the Sustainable Seas Trust, the mean average water temperature has been three to four degrees warmer this year in comparison to corresponding temperatures from previous years.
Zigzag’s deepest condolences go out to the friends and family of the victim.
THE NSRI issued the following statement:
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 Albatross 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.
Initial report: There are unconfirmed reports of a fatal shark attack on a swimmer at the Point in J-Bay coming in. A warning has also been posted to all surfers and ocean users in the area to please stay out the water.
We are busy verifying the facts and will post a follow up shortly.