A champion bodyboarder has been killed by a 13-foot-long great white shark off the coast of South Africa.
The shark attack occurred yesterday afternoon off of Gordons Bay, a popular surfing spot about 55 miles east of Cape Town.
David Lilienfeld, 20, was killed after the great white shark severed his right leg below the hip. Lilienfeld’s younger brother, Gustav, tried unsuccessfully to ward off the shark with his board.
The shark lunged at Lilienfeld twice before returning for the fatal attack. Gustav, who wasn’t injured, rushed his brother back to shore on his board, but David had lost too much blood.
“This was his life, and he died doing what he loved,” said his father, Dirk.
One witness claimed the attack wasn’t random, but was rather a result of chumming that had been done in the area for the filming of the documentary series Shark Men which appears on the National Geographic Channel.
Following the fatal attack, Cape Town environmental officials pulled the film crew’s research permit, but they stopped short of saying that chumming contributed to the attack.
“There is no evidence or any logical reasoning to link the two, but the national government department that was responsible for that program felt an immense amount of pressure, and as result of that pressure they felt it was just better not to continue with the tagging of the white sharks,” said Gregg Oelofse, head of Cape Town’s environmental policy unit.
Shark Men features anglers and scientists capturing and tagging sharks, but the show hasn’t yet been renewed for another season by the network.
Chumming is also done in the area by cage-diving operators who offer shark-watching trips for tourists.
Lilienfeld competed on the South African team at the International Surfing Association Bodyboarding Championships last year in the Canary Islands.