A young man who was bitten by a great white shark off Cape Town’s Muizenberg beach on Friday was tossed nearly ten feet into the air by the intensity of the predator’s attack, according to witnesses.
“There was only the board between him and the shark’s mouth. His board saved him,” said Julian Pringle, a fellow surfer who helped bring the victim back to shore following the attack. According to IOL, Pringle dashed into the water, along with Brendhan “Jock” Kannemeyer, to retrieve 20-year-old Matthew Smithers after he was struck from below by the great white. “That guy should be dead,” Pringle added, calling Smithers’ survival “a miracle.”
— David Yarrow (@David_Yarrow) July 28, 2014
South Africa’s National Sea Rescue Institute confirmed the species of shark, according to Bloomberg, and noted that it was not a small white shark that struck Smithers:
“The species of shark involved has been confirmed by the bite marks to have been a White Shark and eyewitness accounts suggest the shark to have been between 3 and 4 meters in length.”
The great white attacked Smithers in deep water between 200m and 300m offshore, striking from below the surfer with a force that sent him flying into the air. As The Inquisitr has previously reported, the behavior is called breaching, and the violent hunting technique often sends the body of the shark careening out of the water as well. “The shark came from below and hit the bottom of the board,” Pringle said, before biting the stunned surfer, gashing both of his legs.
Smithers was able to make it back to his surfboard, though the great white remained in the area, circling him. Kannemeyer, who was already in the water on his own board, swam over to Smithers and used the victim’s surfboard leash as a tourniquet to stem the flow of blood. “He was totally calm,” Kannemeyer said. “I tied a leash around him and saw that he had a wound at the back of his knee.”
When they reached the shore, Kannemeyer was able to see the extent of the damage the great white had caused. “He had a big piece of flesh about the size of my hand hanging outside his left thigh,” the surfer said, “And then his right knee on the inside has been punctured. It looked awful.”
— Matthew Karsten (@ExpertVagabond) July 19, 2014
Kannemeyer also said that the beach’s shark siren sounded only after they had already brought Smithers ashore. Though shark spotters were unable to see the great white before the attack, Kannemeyer says that he knew it was there:
“I saw the shark cruising into where the surfers were. We paddled to other surfers and told them to get out. It’s not shark season so I thought it was a whale. Then I saw it was a great white. You don’t want to scream and panic. You just turn around and want to get out of the water.”
Smithers is in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery, according to a statement on the City of Cape Town’s website. Muizenberg beach has been closed to the public until further notice, while officials asses whether the great white shark remains in the area.
[Image via The Citizen]