South Africa rejects documentary ties to fatal shark attack
A fatal shark attack on a 20-year-old South African while he was body-boarding had no link to a documentary filmmaker's use of bait to draw the predators, officials said.
The city of Cape Town ruled out a link between David Lilienfeld’s death Thursday and the use of bait and watery fish gunk, known as chum, to attract sharks for research that was being filmed in the area.
“There is no evidence or reason to suggest that the tagging of four White Sharks over a period of 24 hours from Sunday, April 15, to Monday, April 16 … had any role to play in the tragic events,” a city statement said.
“Public and media speculation linking the two unrelated activities is uninformed and misleading.”
Lilienfeld was mauled by a single shark, believed to be a Great White that bit off his right leg while he was body-boarding with his brother in False Bay some 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the city centre.
Earlier in the week, the collaborative project between research group Ocearch and the Shark Men series, which has featured on the National Geographic channel, worked in the large bay.
“White sharks occur in False Bay in healthy numbers throughout the year. The small and limited chumming by Ocearch would not have attracted additional sharks to False Bay,” the city’s probe into the attack found.
“It is the view of this report that the fatal shark attack could not have been avoided within reasonable means,” the statement said.
Cape Town’s coastline is a natural habitat for White Sharks, the city said, adding: “An unfortunate, tragic and regrettable result of this will be that, on occasion, shark attacks will occur.”
All the same the environmental ministry suspended US-based documentary filmmaker Chris Fischer’s permit for the Shark Men project after the attack.
Officials are mulling a trial shark net for Fish Hoek, a popular swimming beach where three attacks, two deadly, have taken place.
To counter attacks due to regular shark presence, the city also uses a unique shark spotting programme at several beaches.