Michael Cohen, 43, had his right leg bitten off and part of his left leg below the knee by a shark, while swimming off Fish Hoek beach outside Cape Town on Wednesday 26 September 2011.
According to reports he had ignored warnings by shark spotters not to enter the water as three sharks had been spotted close to the beach. Fish Hoek beach is in False Bay, a renowned great white breeding ground.
According to press reports, at around 12:25 on Wednesday, the mountain shark spotter saw a swimmer enter the water near the Clovelly Corner area of the beach. The spotter tried to sound the alarm, but due to an city-wide electricity failure, the alarm did not sound.
Spotters first sighted two great white sharks after 09:00 on Wednesday. The alarm was sounded, the beach was closed and the white flag was raised. Once the sharks had moved back out of the bay, the red warning flag was raised as per standard safety protocol. At 10.50am shark spotters sighted two great white sharks for a second time in Fish Hoek. The shark siren was again sounded, the beach was cleared of swimmers and the shark flag was raised.
At around 12.25 a witness saw a large shark “casually and slowly” approach Cohen, who was swimming parallel to the beach in a southerly direction, near the brown water coming from the Silvermine River mouth. The shark approached him from behind. Cohen appeared unaware of the shark’s presence.
“The shark lunged for the swimmer, shook him once, then let go and moved off 5m to 10m away.”
Cohen was pulled ashore by two men who had seen the incident unfolding from the shore. They waded in through the surf to reach Cohen who was by then struggling in the sea red with his blood.
On the beach one of the shark spotters applied a tourniquet and raised his leg to stem the bleeding. Emergency services arrived shortly afterwards and he was airlifted by helicopter to Constantiaberg Hospital. He was reported in stable condition.
Lloyd Skinner, 37, was killed by what is presumed to be a great white shark while swimming in chest deep water off Fish Hoek beach in Cape Town South Africa in the afternoon of Tuesday 12 January 2010.
Media reports witnesses at the popular holiday destination watched in horror as they watched a gigantic shark “the size of a minibus” eat the swimmer.
His body has not been recovered.
The Guardian reports:
Skinner was standing chest-deep 100 metres from the shore and adjusting his goggles when the shark struck. It was seen approaching him twice before he disappeared in a flurry of thrashing. Cape Town’s disaster management services had issued a warning hours earlier that sharks had been spotted in the water, but the shark flag was not flying.
The Cape Times quotes a local resident who saw the attack from his home near the beach:
“Holy shit. We just saw a gigantic shark eat what looked like a person in front of our house… That shark was huge. Like dinosaur huge,” Gregg Coppen posted on Twitter.
The newspaper quoted Kyle Johnston who’d been swimming near the man when the attack happened.
“We were swimming only about 15 metres away from the guy. We were at about chest depth and he was a little deeper.
“We looked at the walkway and saw people waving towels at us, then we looked further out to sea and saw what looked like blood, and a man’s leg come up.”
“I was floating and I thought the people waving at us were joking, but then I looked back and saw a fin and blood,”
Irishman Denis Lundon, who was on walkway at the back of the beach was quoted as saying he saw “several bits of fish” that might have been parts of a single shark emerging from the water, then a swimmer being thrust chest-high out of the sea.
“I jumped, waved my hat and roared and screamed at swimmers to get out of the water. I never want to experience this again. I’m going to block it out of my mind.”
“We saw the shark come back twice,” Lundon’s friend Phyllis McCartain, from England, said. “It had the man’s body in its mouth, and his arm was in the air. Then the sea was full of blood.”
Another witness on the beach, Kathy Geldenhys, was quoted as saying: “Only when it was attacking did I see the fin, but then I could see the whole body under the water. It was a very big shark.”