Cape beaches closed after shark attack

Beaches from Glencairn to Muizenberg will be closed until further notice after a man was attacked by a shark while swimming at Fish Hoek beach on Tuesday afternoon, the City of Cape Town said.

“All beaches from Glencairn to Muizenberg will remain closed until the city is satisfied that the conditions for the monitoring of sharks have improved,” according to a statement issued on Wednesday.

“It is likely that visibility for shark spotting will improve later this afternoon. The public will be informed as soon as there are any changes to the current situation.”

The man, 37-year-old Lloyd Skinner from Zimbabwe, was neck deep in the water when he was attacked at about 3pm.

Witnesses spoke of seeing a fin and blood as he disappeared under the water.

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), the police and members of the public, armed with binoculars, have been searching for Skinner’s body since the attack. So far only his swimming goggles have been found.

“I would be amazed if we found anything now,” NSRI spokesperson Ian Klopper said.

“The shark attacked him three times. It didn’t bite him and let him go. It came back and carried on eating.”

Klopper said the NSRI had been receiving repeated reports of body parts being washed up on the beach, but none had been factual.

He said the NSRI was preparing to end its search on Wednesday afternoon.

Beachgoers at Fish Hoek were only able to walk ankle deep in the water as the white and black shark flags waved around the beach and temperatures soared above 30 degrees Celsius in the city.

“You’ve got to be stupid to get in the water right now,” Fish Hoek resident Eddie Roth said. “There are a lot of sharks around at the moment.”

Roth, who paddles regularly around Fish Hoek, said he and wife Allison had seen a 4m-long great white shark beyond the kelp near the rocks on the side of the beach on Wednesday morning.

“We heard a shark and we came to take a look. When we got to the beach we saw a 4m great white swimming very close to the rocks. It was just beyond the kelp.”

Roth said he would keep on paddling despite the attack.

“It’s a risk every time you get in the water, but normally there’s very little chance of being attacked by a shark.”

The city, meanwhile, appealed to bathers to remain in shallow water, no deeper than the waist.

People should not swim alone, but rather stay in a group. All swimmers should make sure there is a friend or family member who can see them while they are in the water.

The city will conduct an extensive review of the attack.

“Once all the information has been compiled, it will be made available to the public”, said Gregg Oelofse, the head of the city’s environmental policy and strategy department.

“The city would like to extend its sincere condolences to the victim’s family. As a city, we pride ourselves on having one of the most beautiful coastlines for everyone to enjoy and events like yesterday [Tuesday] are particularly sad for Cape Town.”

A howling south-easter wind had caused poor visibility at Fish Hoek and other beaches on Tuesday afternoon, when the attack took place.

Shark spotters from the city’s Shark Spotting Programme, on duty at Fish Hoek beach at the time of the attack, had raised the black flag to warn the public of poor visibility. The last fatal shark attack in Cape Town was in 2005. Spotters have reported more than 570 shark sightings since November 2004.

There have been frequent sightings in the past month.

An alert was sent out on Sunday after eight sightings were recorded between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay on Friday and Saturday. — Sapa

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