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. Jack

    really people, show some respect here. Someone is dead and all you can do is make jokes?

    April 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jaws

    This is unfortunate. But the shark stood his ground, i mean water!

    April 25, 2012 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jaws

    Here is the thing, then you get people that want to go kill this shark because he stood his ground right? Not his fault some guy was swimming in the shark's waters. The shark is reacting by nature. People should know not to do this kind of stuff your asking for it and all the troubles that comes with it!

    April 25, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. John

    "Stop Chumming???" That's the most ridiculous comment I've ever heard in my life. Surfers get attacked hundreds of times a year all over the world and no chumming of any kind was taking place. The second fact is that if you intend to surf in waters where predatory sharks, particularly the Great White, are indigenous then you are at the risk of serious injury or death each time you go into the water.

    April 25, 2012 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. Some Body

    There is no need to keep any sharks around in the sea anymore. They are all dinosaurs that should be exterminated. I am so glad that most mountain cats and wolves were exterminated in my area of the US a hundred years ago. Men were men back then and could actually protect the population.

    April 25, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      should be a bounty paid for each carcass of thses menacing beasts

      April 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. don

    You need a pet Orca around. They are the natural enemies of the shark.

    April 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Booger

    He died the way he lived, in a sharks mouth.

    April 25, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Shark Expert

    The shark was standing its ground, can we really blame him for being hungry?

    April 25, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Coflyboy

    I am surprised nobody has blamed Obama yet. After all, Obama is allowing sharks to roam the coast of South Africa.

    April 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nilsen

      True on the BHO thing ( BHO 2012) but this is so sad and not the time for politics. Excuse mine as well. What a sad day for the family; but as David's father said: He died doing what he loved. My thoughts go out to his family and his friends and to the community of surfers. Brave young man, I hope you are riding the waves in the safe and beautiful waters of heaven!

      April 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • ceg

      LOL! Right they will find away to blame him for this too!

      April 25, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis Lujan

      I don't think that this is the ( first comment) that should be read, nor seen in this tragic accident. It is not fair to the family. But oh well free speech. It is just not right.

      April 26, 2012 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
    • djwazu

      Keep reading i am sure it will come up!!!

      April 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      obama is doing enough damage here so he doesnt have time to screw up in other country.

      April 26, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nilsen

    Pdeo assbear: you need to find out the meaning of empathetic. And kesmit. Go post on Fox about Nascar or Erectile Dysfunction. RIP David: May the posting by those without souls never reach your beautiful aura.

    April 25, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. I Got Somthing to Say

    Sorry for the lost but does that Sneaker Commercial with the Sharks in it comes to anyone mind?

    April 25, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Larry

    Given that there were warnings about the film crews using chum, perhaps the young man who was killed would have been wiser to skip his sports activity. At the very least, he should have been aware of the overall danger of Great Whites in South African waters, it been repeatedly featured on television and print media stories around the world. Let's not have a knee-jerk reaction and thereby prevent video crews from doing their work to raise shark awareness around the world.

    April 26, 2012 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
  13. Brad

    Obviously, loss of human life is horrible. However, we're in the shark's habitat when surfing or bodyboarding in the ocean. We can't expect attacks not to happen.

    April 26, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. steve

    What about Shark Camo – they have these suits that are striped that people can wear that are supposedly good at keeping sharks away because it makes you resemble something that is poisonous..... I'd like to see more of these surfers wear stuff like that....

    April 26, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. Hear Ye

    Play with fire .... you may get burned.
    Take note wannabe rock climbers – I'm sick of paying to rescue you from your stupidity.

    April 26, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
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