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. ert

    It's Bush's Fault!!!!!

    April 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. boarddog

    "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?"

    I'm thinking...YES!

    April 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. sapsxy

    People like him who choose to die like that -die like that-it's that simple.Play with fire enough time you'll pretty much end up getting in flames sooner or later.Periiod!

    April 20, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. High Hopes


    You have my permission to return to your cage...

    ... and take your childish buds with you!

    Shark attacks on airplanes and busses?

    Go home and grow up... or out, whichever you prefer!


    The Mighty SHARK!

    April 20, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. James

    Swim with the sharks – die with the sharks.

    April 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. slim

    bottom line is we as humans are designed to stay on land. sharks are designed to stay in water. if a shark tried to come kick it in the park with us we'd probably shoot it and eat it. it works both ways. except the sharks can kill us with their jaws and eat us on the spot. don't get so outraged when you hear these things. I dont go in the ocean past my knees hardly ever and i dont plan on doing so anytime soon.

    April 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • shaleefa

      Lets not pretend that sharks never kill people when there isnt chumming in the area. If you swim surf or body board in areas where there are man killing sharks, it is just a risk that you take. Go play around in bear country, and a bear might maul you.....

      April 20, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • SteveP


      April 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. NorthropP61

    On the same day this young man died, how many people were killed by other people? Killed for political or religious reasons, killed in anger, killed for profit, killed for pleasure.

    If sharks worry you, stay out of the ocean. Oceans have belonged to the sharks for millions of years longer than humans have walked upright. So stay on dry land. But watch your back.

    April 20, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. High Hopes


    Since when are SHARKS associated with
    FIRE? You scared? Run to your shark
    cage and avoid your fellow man. You, truly,
    are unfit to walk among us!

    Bye-Bye, Wannabe Warrior...

    April 20, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • High Hopes

      The above was addressed to Pedo,
      who has become dillusional!


      Grid your groins and seize your swords!
      I'm not a shark, but find that bear's comments

      April 20, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Obamanation

    It's BUSH's fault!

    April 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sue

    Excellent a great white shark kills an come the NAACP, another march and lots of racial remarks. Those sharks will never learn.

    April 20, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick Pettinato

      Wear your Trayvon hoodie for that rally. 2 for 1.

      April 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • mar do know he is white right? Very large European communities there.

      April 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jmat

    I am a surfer, love surfing to death but every surfer body boarder, diver knows that you are in their territory. We know sharks can cover 10's of miles in the time that we get in and get out of the water. we know that there has probably been way more sharks swim under us than we have seen on the surface. My point is we all know the risks and do not think this guy did not. Does that mean he was willing to get killed by a shark doing what he loved? of course not. it just means he understood all too well the risks. Noone who regularly goes in the water does not consider every time if even for a moment the possibility of a shark attack. That being said my thoughts to his family and friends.

    April 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Larry

    Sometimes we eat the shark, sometimes the shark eats us. Depends on where the meal is presented.

    April 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sunnysout

    Anyone watch Shark Week on Discovery Channel? The waters off of South Africa are completely shark infested. Cape Town and in particular Seal Island. I wouldn't put my big toe in those waters, let alone swim them. If there was chumming going on somewhere nearby, no doubt it was Discovery Channel getting footage for this year's Shark Week. It is a shame for the loss of this young man, but people need to remember this is a vile environment and where the sharks feed. Swimmer, boogie-boarder and surfers beware- if you go in those waters, consider yourself up for grabs. RIP dude.

    April 20, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Eric Chamberlain

    This is sad and I am not looking for bad karma but, for the sake of helping others think to perhaps avoid this in the future, I'd say that swimming or surfing in waters with sharks is as crazy as camping in the tiger exhibit at the zoo. It's Russian Roulette to know this and go in anyway.

    April 20, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. honest bond trader

    Only ten percent of big fish remain in the ocean. This was really bad luck

    April 20, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
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