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. Bubba

    I wonder if he tasted like "peanut butter snickers:

    April 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Logic

    you are a horrible person. congrats!

    April 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Wren Sharpbeak

    from TheBombSurf:

    "In the event of a shark attack, we need to question, who will be held accountable, Dr. Boyd for issuing the permit, National Geographic and Fisher productions for baiting and chumming, the researchers for supporting the project?"

    What about laying some responsibility on the people who take to the waves after such an alert is issued? It was announced on a page specifically intended for surfers that increased shark activity would be present as a result of the filming. As tragic as this occurrence is, shouldn't the surfers themselves take up some accountability if they choose to go into dangerous waters and are attacked as a result?

    April 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. EvolveNow

    As I have friends from South Africa, I can truely say that South African's in general are very aware that swimming in the ocean there is dangerous, due to the shark presence there. On the other hand they are also acutely aware that those who come to view and film sharks and chum the waters to attrack MORE sharks, have really done a bang up job of getting them to cruise the chum slick right up to the beaches. The presence of Great Whites near the beaches has increased by 20-30 percent from these actions. Take into account that the likelyhood of seeing a Great White shark at one of South Africa's beach in one's lifetime WAS about 10% and now ADD 30% more... Now you understand why some of their countrymen are voicing thier concerns.

    April 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mastodonrocks

    I was just thinking the same thing, how many times did that idiot go back to the ranch instead of taking care of buisness???

    April 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Raoul

    False Bay=Great White Sharks=You understand the risk.

    April 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chum Chum

      Who really cares???? People die all the time

      April 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • NorthropP61


      April 20, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Franky

    Uhmmm ... I'm going to hazard a guess that swimming in the ocean where there are wild beast caused this kid to die not the chumming. I gaurantee if he wasn't in the ocean he wouldn't have gotten attacked by a great white shark. Chris Rock had a great joke about this, he was like I don't think it's strange if you are swimming in the ocean to get bit by a shark, but if you are sitting your shower and a great white passes you a bar of soap yeah I could see an issue with that.

    April 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Matt Ingram

    WutWut, I am only going to suppose that you are aware of a little thing called "Karma." Prepare to meet it.

    April 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Duh!

    Your in an area known for big sharks, there are seals that the shark eats in that area, Sharks are a tourist attraction for that area! some areas around there ban swiming because of sharks and the possability of attack. are we surprizied? chances of you killing yourself during russian roulet are 1 in 6, playing with clip loaded gun really increases your chances! Duh.

    April 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Your point is very valid yet your delivery is horrendous. Slow down, think about what you are saying and typing, and spell check for the love of god. Only then will people actually take you seriously.

      April 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mike

    This guy body boards, so basically he looks like the sharks favorite prey from below, but they are going to blame researchers for this tragedy? Basic common sense says don't make yourself look like another animals meal.

    April 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Faxon

    I am glad nobody shot the shark, who was just doing his sharky thing.

    April 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tom

    I was so glad to read that the shark in question was not destroyed because of this tragedy. So many times when an animal attacks a human after the human invades their territory, the animal ends up "paying the price" for basically being an animal. Like that Timothy Tredwell guy that lived with Grizzly bears and ended up getting eaten by one. They ended up killing the bear. That is the tragedy.

    April 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • "God" doesn't exist.

      It's a tragedy either way, more so when human life is lost, derp.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Locode

    ""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,""

    If the chumming was the problem, blame the local tourist attractions instead.

    Next time they should use ChumLee from Pawn Stars. He'd keep all the sharks fed for weeks.

    April 20, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Glenn

    Does chumming attract sharks? Well, that's why those guys were chumming–to attract sharks.

    April 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kevin

    You know what the saddest thing is? People who troll new articles and message boards to make everything about their political or religious beliefs. Someone died here, and yes, the odds went up with his hobby or profession, and where he was doing it, but some people on here have used this as an opportunity to say they hate liberals, or make it about Obama. You can't read any article online or view any Youtube clip without people spewing garbage and unrelated opinions all over it.

    This is about a shark attack, not about Washington, not about liberals, not about politics. People really talk tough from behind a keyboard without any consequence for their actions, don't they. You should be embarrassed, but I know most won't be, you'll troll another article and blast it with more things no one cares about. Make more jokes too about something this horrific and I'm sure karma will avoid you. Positive.

    I think at this point the web should make you register with your real home address (besides parents' basement) when you post comments on anything. I bet all of the trolls, basement dwellers, and keyboard warriors would say the same things huh?

    April 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
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