Great white shark kills championship bodyboarder; did chumming attract beasts?
A great white shark like this one killed bodyboarder David Lilienfeld.
April 20th, 2012
11:42 AM ET

Great white shark kills championship bodyboarder; did chumming attract beasts?

South African championship bodyboarder David Lilienfeld, 20, was killed by a great white shark Thursday in Kogel Bay near Cape Town as he caught waves with his brother, according to local news reports.

A shark estimated to be between 13 and 16 feet long bit off Lilienfeld's right leg, the reports said.

Witnesses saw the attack from the rocks overlooking the bay, which is part of the larger False Bay.

One of them was Lucille Bester, who said she saw the shark about 20 to 30 yards from Lilienfeld and others in the water but was too far away to catch their attention, according to a report from the Cape Argus on the website Independent Online.

"The next thing we saw the shark come from under one of the guys and grab him. The shark shook him and then let him go. The surfer was screaming – it was terrible!" Bester is quoted as saying.

“Then it took him again. And that was it. It took him under. The first time it took him, there wasn’t any blood. But the second time there was," Bester told the Cape Argus.

Fellow surfer Mat Marais saw the attack from the beach, according to the report.

"I saw this big dorsal fin, and after that I saw him getting attacked. He was off his board and in the water. Then the shark turned around and attacked him again. Just before it attacked him, he tried to put his board between him and the shark. He was pushing the shark’s head with his board.

“But within two seconds, the water turned from turquoise to red," the Cape Argus quoted Marais as saying.

Lilienfeld's brother, Gustav, got his body to shore, according to a report in the Cape Times.

The bodyboarder's father, Dirk Lilienfeld, gave police a statement for the gathered media, according to the Cape Times.

"This was his life, and he died doing what he loved,” police said the father told them.

Lilienfeld placed third in the South African Bodyboarding Association’s 2011 pro rankings and competed for South Africa in November's world games.

“It’s a humongous loss to South African Bodyboarding. He was a well mannered boy and did his best for South African Bodyboarding," the vice chairman of the group, Pat Harris, told local Eyewitness News.

After the attack, witnesses reported that the shark that killed Lilienfeld was one of six spotted in the area, Craig Lambinon, a spokesman for the National Sea Rescue Institute, told the Cape Times.

Some pointed a finger at researchers and documentary filmmakers who were working in the area earlier in the week and using chum to attract sharks to their cameras, using Facebook and Twitter to protest.

"Why does a kid have to die before we start talking about the negative effects of chumming the coastline?? Pisses me off!!" wrote Karen Zoid under the hashtag "sharkattack" on Twitter.

"Chumming must stop and the exploitation of our wildlife in Africa must stop this is all about greed and money," according to a Facebook posting under the name Monica Rogers.

Documentary maker Chris Fischer defended the filming on the Facebook page for the show "Shark Men," seen on the National Geographic Channel, saying the crew had left the area three days earlier.

"During our 24 hrs of work (Sun afternoon to Monday afternoon) there we chummed 24kg (53 pounds) of pilchards (sardines). Less than the daily allotment for each of three cage diving boats working daily," the post said. "We have been east of Cape Agulhas (160km east of Seal Island) since Monday evening until we arrived in Walker Bay(80km East of Seal Island) this morning."

"We are terribly sorry again for the loss of this family and at this time our thoughts and prayers are with them," it read.

Fischer's group had a government permit for the chumming and filming, but it was revoked after Thursday's attack, according to the local news reports.

In a news release dated April 11, researcher and great white photographer Dirk Schmidt warned that chumming could bring sharks to the area and keep them there.

"A sharp increase in the number of White Sharks may be noted during and after the filming has been completed, as these sharks, initially attracted by volumes of chum to the Seal Island area, find their way around the bay.  The dispersal of a massive chum slick, given on-shore winds, may further increase the number of inshore sharks which cruise the chum slick in search of food," Schmidt wrote.

CapeTimes columnist Tony Weaver, a surfer and diver in the waters where the shark attacked, on Friday called for an end to chumming.
"Could there indeed be a link between chumming and shark attacks? Does chumming bring sharks closer inshore? Does it make sharks go in search of easier prey?" Weaver wrote.

"Until we have a scientific answer, chumming in False Bay must be banned," he wrote.

National Geographic issued a statement saying Fischer's current work was not part of any project for the network.

“We have not renewed the series, have no plans to at the moment, and are not filming new episodes at this time. Therefore, the filming mentioned is not for National Geographic Channel, or future episodes of Shark Men,” the network said, according to a report on the South African website ITweb.

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Filed under: Animals • Sharks • Sports
soundoff (482 Responses)
  1. tommy

    Or, you know, you could just not swim (board) in waters known to be frequented by white sharks.....

    April 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. A Person

    @Truth Seeker – Just because this poor boy was killed doesn't mean all sharks should be killed! They don't instinctively seek out humans to kill them, it just happens when people and sharks come together in bad timing! If anything, the things humans do to sharks are WAY worse, in my opinion...

    April 23, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paige

      What purpose does a shark serve? Just enlighten me shark lovers.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mary

    @ A Person, My sentiments exactly!

    April 23, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Thetruth

    Well Sharks have been spotted in the ocean before.....

    April 23, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. kwasi

    here is a article about a shark

    April 23, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SmarterNThat

    Do something dangerous and die: that;s your own stupid fault. Don't blame the shark.

    April 23, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. erinco22

    i dont blame the shark and i dont blame the kid we all have done risky things at some point in life i do blame the people who where using chumb TO ATRACT SHARKS it was extremly selfish and greedy of their part knowing there where kids with in 200 miles away.. sharks are not just attracted in a certain direction they come from all directions so i think chumming should be banned with in at least 250 miles of beaches. for a shark 160 kilometers is really nothing since all the do is swim.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • watergirl

      Or....
      You know you are taking a risk going into the ocean, you know that big body of water filled with predators? Blaming it on chumming is just using it as a scapegoat. What happened to the boy is sad, but no one is gaurenteed safety when going into the ocean. If he had drowned, he would be your scapegoat then?

      April 24, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  8. DPatriot

    Who freakin chums , when people are surfing ?

    April 23, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. christianheaven

    at least he died and gone to christian heaven, he will be in a better place where there is no sharks. this is the beauty of karma. he tried to mess around in the sea and the big white shark showed him who is the boss. next time he will use common sense before going into the water again.

    April 24, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • OncoMom

      yeah....um....he wont be going into the water again!

      April 24, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Michizzle

      Are you kidding me? You get your thrills through god, he got his through surfing. I get mine through snowboarding, some people jump out of planes. Go thump your bible a little harder and see where it gets you.

      April 24, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • confused

      How will there be a "next time." You said, "next time he will use common sense before going into the water again." The poor boy died. I would like to think that God gave us the ocean to enjoy and induldge in. I hope the parents of this talented and fun loving kid doesn't read your harsh and disrespectfull comments. Shame on you.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Heavendoesntexist

      how do you know there arent sharks in heaven? been there? didnt think so....never have because it doesnt exist! take your close minded a!! and go hug a bible and pray for your quick end!

      April 24, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • boby

      dude, are you serious. Go die in a hole you little piece of crap.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Debbie

      Well since he died I don't think he will be going back into the water. Hopefully you will use common sense before you type again.

      April 25, 2012 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
    • craig

      Must be tough going through life as a complete and utter moron. It would be great if a shark would bite your arms off, so you couldn't type this utter nonsense.

      April 25, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  10. erinco22

    i dont blame the shark and i dont blame the kid we all have done risky things at some point in life i do blame the people who where using chumb TO ATRACT SHARKS it was extremly selfish and greedy of their part knowing there where kids with in 200 miles away.. sharks are not just attracted in a certain direction they come from all directions so i think chumming should be banned with in at least 250 miles of beaches. for a shark 160 kilometers is really not a big distance anyway

    April 24, 2012 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
  11. Laura Bradley

    There is absolutely no connection between feeding sharks large amounts of fish and blood and the increase in sharks in the same area. It is completely preposterous to say that giving sharks food attracts them to a certain area. It's just ridiculous. The same goes for feeding any animal. If one were to say, feed pigeons by placing large amounts of seeds on the window sill, it's silly to think that this would result in large numbers of pigeons on the same window sill. And it's even more silly to imagine that these pigeons may stick around for a few days expecting to find more seed.

    April 24, 2012 at 6:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Slider

      That was the dumbest thing I've ever heard. You obviously have no experience with sharks....or pigeons.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I see what you did there...brilliant!

      April 24, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • confused

      Well the idiot have chosen to speak out today. Laura Bradley, i would like to give you a little homework that i feel even you are capible of. Step 1. Put any type of food out in your driveway today. Step 2. a few hours later go check on it.
      My prediction is either it will not be there or it will be covered with ants. Food attracts animals, insects, etc. its as simple as that.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • talus12

      Lol. Try feeding pigeons large amounts of food. And clean up their mess afterwards.

      April 24, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • MR Focus

      @ Banasy, Yes, but apparently no one else did. Must be some foreigner trolling the Yanks again.

      April 24, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Because you say so I guess?

      April 25, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • lins

      she is being sarcastic..... you idiots.

      April 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bobby Dias

    As part of their way of feeding themselves the people there have been chumming for at least a thousand years- the surfers are invaders of the area. Stupid invaders. Selfish people for favoring a few adults having fun over feeding families.

    April 24, 2012 at 6:31 am | Report abuse |
  13. Najib

    I feel sorry for this kid! But He died playing his favorite sport. Playing sports does not come without a risk.So, there is no reason to blame him for what happened to him.Last week an Italian soccer player died on the pitch.Should we blame him for playing soccer??
    So, That was really his faith.
    Experience has proved that chumming brings fish to the area because of their strong sense of smell. Maybe scientist should take in consideration staying far enough from the beaches, however sharks are strong swimmers, and they are known for circling the areas close to beaches looking for preys.
    It's really no body's fault.That was his unfortunate faith! and We all know that more people die daily from car accidents than from shark attacks!!
    Thanks!

    April 24, 2012 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
  14. mcool123

    that's just sad to hear that he died from an shark attack. They should block off the areas where the sharks could be located at in the waters.

    April 24, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  15. chay

    Ok we have subs and ships. Kill all the sharks and all that defend territory as shark property.

    April 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
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