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. andrea

    when will people realize not to mess with mother nature

    April 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      What does that mean??!?? Don't hike, climb a mountain, surf, fly? You kinda stupid?

      April 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      @Daniel....ummmm I think it is kind of obvious what was she meant!!! I think you might be the stupid one!!!

      April 20, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • High Hopes


      I think what you mean to say is:

      YOU can't fool Mother Nature...

      But, she sure made a fool out of YOU!



      You can do all those things and more!


      Have Fun... Enjoy!

      April 20, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kampercam

    Everyone wants to tell everyone what they can do.

    April 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bob1

    Swimming in shark infested waters is like playing Russian roulette. What do you expect folks, you keep playing with fire, (ask the best magicians, and they'll confirm) sooner or later you'll get burned, it's just a matter of time, but ultimately it will happen. Sad, but no surprises here when you keep pushing the envelope further and further..

    April 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      No Bob, you're wrong. You don't get out much do you? Most surfers never see a shark. Never in their whole lives. Can you use 'their' and 'there' in a sentence?

      April 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      ummm @Daniel....You should probably read his post again!!! Not sure what you are talking about, he never used either word in his post! You are look dumber and dumber with every post you make!! LOL

      April 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • School Mistress.

      @Daniel: I will. There are some people who should never get access to their computer again.

      April 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ilya

    What do you expect when you step/swim into the sharks kitchen? I understand having fun doing what you like to do, but it is difficult to feel sorry for someone that increases their chances of dying. At that point it is kind of an "oh well."

    April 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. feed me seeymore

    prayers or their loss.
    Sad but no one ever takes South africa serious enough. How many times do you guys have to make excuses for these darn sharks? South Africa = Geat White shark. period. Same stuff all the time " he died for what he loves.... come on.. He died feeding the fish. Sad but true. Yeah right... what ever you say...

    April 20, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Spelling

    I think spelling is a lost art. It's not "mame", it's maim. And "dieing" is spelled dying. People who can't spell have no business inserting an opinion and calling someone a moron. Go back to school, okay?

    April 20, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. honest bond trader

    Not much left in the ocean for sharks to eat.

    April 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ilya

    I don't fault him for his decisions or choices, but he, and he alone, is responsible for them. Why should I feel sorry for someone that made a choice that increased his chances of dying, then he does?

    April 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • NorthropP61

      True, but people increase their chances of dying when they ride in a car, give birth to a baby, or snowboard. All of those things kill more people than die from shark bite. I can still feel sorry that their lives were cut short.

      April 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nilsen

      No one is asking you to feel sorry ~ this is a sad news story about a brave athlete. Do with it as you please, Cvolitch. But, then again, in the greater circle of humanity your small nugguat of a brain will also not feel anything for soldiers, for Olympians, for mountain climbers, for cosmonauts ? are a small minder person living in a small world of your small self. Idee na whooie....

      April 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MashaSobaka

    More people are killed every year by tipped-over vending machines than by sharks. When you think of how many people go swimming in sharks' habitats every year, that is mind-boggling. I am very sad for this family's loss, but he *had* to know that this was a risk when he jumped into the shark's home looking like a sea lion (their primary prey, especially in South Africa – it's kind of what the great whites there are known for). Don't blame the shark for living its life.

    April 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jason

    Take a tums...your sense of self righteous outrage is way overdone. So what? Somebody is dead, they died doing what they love to do. R.I.P. People are dying every second of the day. Get a grip!

    April 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Frankie

    My heart goes out to the family and friends of David Lilienfeld. May they take solace in the fact that he died doing what he loves.
    In regards to this article, I wonder why the term "beasts" is used to describe sharks in this headline. Humans kill millions (yes, millions) more sharks in one year than the number of humans killed by sharks, which makes you wonder who the real beasts are in the relationship between humans and sharks.

    April 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. banasy©

    Thoughts to his family and friends.

    April 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. banasy©

    Hello, Hope.

    A lot of misdirection goes on here at these boards.

    April 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • High Hopes

      Hey, Banasy!

      We may be powerless in a lot of things,
      but blogs have rules. Pedo Bear is a
      Troll from waaaay back with a whole
      lot of threats. Maybe he/she has BIG
      friends in LOW places?



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

      Oh, Banasy. This is a blog and bloggers know the rules. Besides, he/she is an enemy from way back. Forgive me if I have offended you... but I know sarcasm when I hear it and recognize that fishy way of thinking... scared, what a sad state to be in.

      As for me, I prefer my freedom.


      Shoo, little dragonfly, to the swamps in
      which you crunch on bugs in graceful flight...
      inside a lifeless cage.

      April 20, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • High Hopes


      I've tried three times to answer your post:


      Misdirection, really?

      (Looking at where your comment ended at)
      Nothing surprises me.

      Smiles to you,

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

    As for this deceased young pro, my deepest condolences to his family.
    He was a pro which meant more time in the ocean than most. IMO the most
    heavenly environment on Earth.

    April 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Guest

    This isn't the issue on this thread, but to respond to your comment, the "guy before" President Obama took vacations to his own property which didn't cost taxpayers nearly what vacations to President Obama's destinations cost.

    April 20, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Franky

      Yeah, that's good and all but the tax payers don't pay for Obama's vacations. Aside from the security detail that travel with presidents regardless of where they are, the tax payers foot zero dollars of the presidents vacation. When the president goes on vacation it's on home. And I think it's completely hypocritical to be like it's Ok for Bush to go to his ranch in crawford, but wrong for Obama to visit his family in Hawaii. People hear Hawaii and they forget that's where he is from. Furthermore, Obama takes far fewer vacations than his predecessor. Moreover, in reality, when the h*ll is the president ever on vacation, when you sign up as President, you get really zero vacation days for atleast 4 years. He's doing all the things he normally does, get's briefings, woken up in the morning with the days intel reports, takes calls, and so on ... only thing is he doesn't schedule any official business like hosting the president of Israel or something.

      April 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • yahmez the mad

      I would like to go shark fishing with the "guy before" President Obama, he would make a great chum.

      A little note to the Secret Service, this is meant to be a joke, not a threat.

      April 22, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
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