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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa
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Tue, 20 December 2016

The NSRI has urged caution in the Plett area after a surf ski paddler's close shave yesterday when a large white shark bit off a large piece of his boat while paddling off Keurbooms.


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BITE DAMAGE: NSRI rescuers carry the bitten surfski to shore. Photo NSRI


Marc Rodgers, NSRI Plettenberg Bay station commander, has urged the public to be cautious in the wake of the encounter, which saw Pretoria resident Ben Swart, 55, tossed into the air as what he thinks is a 4m white shark struck his boat from underneath, taking a large chunk out of it.

NSRI coast watchers monitoring the coastline have noted shark sightings along the Plett coastline after the incident, which took place at 7:13am yesterday. The Plett duty crew launched Sea Rescue craft Ray Farnham and Airlink Rescuer, while a rescue vehicle was also dispatched after a request for assistance from three paddlers: Swart and two friends, Nick Bester and Ronald Pronk, regular paddlers on holiday in Plettenberg Bay.

They had been paddling from Central Beach to Keurbooms about 400 metres offshore at Keurbooms Lagoon when the shark hit Swart's surfski. On arrival on the scene, the NSRI found three surfskis rafted together and three paddlers paddling slowly towards the shoreline. The men were taken aboard the sea rescue craft and the surfskis recovered and brought to shore without incident.

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SHREDDED: Luckily the shark bit the boat behind the seat. Photo NSRI


Swart says he felt a hard bump from underneath his surf-ski behind the seat. The force of impact tossed the ski and him into the air, and he landed in the water. He believes it was a 4m White Shark. He swam back to the damaged ski and lay on it while his two friends created a raft by bringing surfskis alongside and began paddling ashore. They then called NSRI Plettenberg Bay for assistance.

Ben did not see the shark again though Nick saw it about 30 seconds after the incident nearby but no further sightings of the shark were made after that. 

Photos of the surfski, measurements and an account of the incident will be sent to research authorities for investigation to determine the size and the species of the shark and as part of ongoing research into shark encounters.

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