Zoe Steyn, a teenager, was surfing Nahoon Reef, East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa, on Friday afternoon, 7 July 2017, when a 2.5m-3m Great White shark bit into her board and pulled it from under her. She was not injured.
According to a report in the Daily Dispatch, adaptive surfing champ JP Veaudry, who was in the water at the time ‘swam towards the screaming teen after the shark pulled the board out from beneath her’. He paddled with her to the surfer’s walkway across the reef and helped her ashore.
“My first thought was to get out of there, but I couldn’t just leave her. She said she didn’t know if she’d been bitten. I paddled with her to the slipway and when we got out she said it hadn’t bitten her. But I saw it bit her board in exactly the place where her arm could have been.”
Tristan Wantenaar, 33, who was bodyboarding a few metres in front of Zoe at the time of the attack said he heard her scream and turned around to see the large dorsal fin of the shark thrashing.
“It grabbed her board and thrashed it from side to side. She was trying to get back on her board to get out of the water.”
Zoe was uninjured in the incident.
The shark attack sparked a debate on the Zigzag surf mag forum about whether it was an encounter or an attack.
Zoe’s dad comments on Zigzag forum:
Zoë is my daughter. She is as passionate about the environment as she is about surfing. The declining shark population is of great concern to her! She will be back in the water tomorrow for our local trials. We are very grateful that her encounter/ attack (call it what you will), left her unscathed. Also, all you guys who rushed to her aid and paddled back to shore with her are just awesome! That’s the spirit we try and instill in our children, and testimony to the camaraderie in the surfing community!! We are truly grateful!!!