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. mparr22

    Hogarth, are you really that stupid?

    April 20, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Uruk-hai

      The best swimmers always drown.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. Samuel R. Preston, III

    amazing that the shark didn't continue after the other kid, with all that blood in the water.

    April 20, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Erik

      Sam: A predator that changes targets after it's already caught its prey has a good chance of losing its prey I wish it HAD gone after this kid's brother, say... his arm or leg and given the victim time to survive. Better to have two injured but surviving victims than one dead. Such a terrible tragedy.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  3. WASP

    on land we are the alpha predator, in the ocean we can become somethings snack. i feel for this guys family.

    April 20, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  4. iBod

    Sharks are probably one of my most beloved favorite species; but they can be quite scary, especially in South Africa. Isn't this their Summer, if I am not mistaken? I don't know the temperatures this time of year, but I guess the waters are just beginning to cool down from their Summer months, so before the great whites migrate elsewhere for their winter months, I am sure they tend to be more vicious. Unfortunate the way it played out that the man and the shark had to cross paths. Very odd that the shark went back to him. Again, it's probably that they tend to be more vicious in these waning days before migrating elsewhere. I really cringed when his friend described the event.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends through this really difficult time.

    April 20, 2012 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |

      Reread the article. What the shark did was natural. it didn't go for "seconds." The initial pass knocked him off the board, something sharks do: stun their prey. Then it swung back around for the bite. NOM NOM NOM! Once it realized it wasn't seal meat it left the man alone.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. Akahn90

    Good to see Natural Selection of the stupid take place. And why would this be a surprise? Swimming or surfing in South Africa which is heavily Great White infested waters takes a lot of stupidity...

    April 20, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • iBod

      You win the award for CNN's Biggest A Hole Of The Week. Congratulations.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Silentman156

      More people die in car crashes every day than getting attacked by sharks. By your logic, it takes "a lot of stupidity" for people to get in their car and drive to the grocery store....but I am sure that you have no problem with that.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Idol Girl

      In my opinion, your comment is rather mean hearted.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Idol Girl

      In my opinion, that was a very mean hearted thing to say.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |

      Darwinism at work. I love it.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • latuya83

      I hope you crash and burn idiot

      April 20, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. vatoloke

    I used to boogie-board down in the Gulf Coast. Nothing compares to riding a good wave. Then I saw "Jaws". No mas!

    April 20, 2012 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
  7. Thomas Henley

    Poor kid, this is the second Great White Shark fatality to make the news out of South Africa in the last two months. Sharks are migratory creatures I hope this will be the last one to happen this season. Rest in Peace.

    April 20, 2012 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  8. CreedsWord

    In a later interview the shark revealed that the swimmer actually tasted a lot like Snickers AND Peanut Butter. The shark then belched and left the room.

    April 20, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |

      Only nurse sharks like "crunchy."

      April 20, 2012 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Idol Girl


      A person got killed. That's not something to laugh about.

      April 20, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  9. works for me

    All in all, I still trust sharks more than most humans...

    April 20, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  10. Alina1


    April 20, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. Graham

    I lived and surfed my younger years in South Africa and the treat of shark attack is always in the back of your mind. But because the water and the wave have such an appeal, its worth the risk. Its a tragic loss to lose someone your love dearly

    April 20, 2012 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |

    And from this day forward, David Lilienfeld shall be known as "Shark Bite."

    "Shark Bite, Ooohaha!"

    April 20, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |

      Sorry, I am slated for a Carebear Convention tonight. 😉

      April 20, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Idol Girl

      @Pedo Bear and @Zombie Michael Jackson

      A person got killed. That's not something to laugh about.

      April 20, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |

      @ Idol Girl: You sound like a broken record. Is that all you know how to post?

      April 20, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. really?

    south africa and australia are known for great white sharks. i do not feel sorry for anybody. dont play with nature. she will always win

    April 20, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  14. Paul

    There are a few really stupid comments here

    April 20, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |

      Me thinks your comment fits that catagory as well. 😛

      April 20, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  15. Idol Girl

    @Pedo Bear

    In my opinion, that was a very mean hearted thing to say.

    April 20, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |

      I <3 you too.
      But really, I am just saying it like it is sister. No sugar coating here.

      April 20, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
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