Clovelly shark attack: man’s leg bitten off by great white

Photos added… (Update 29/9/11)

A 42 year-old swimmer had his right leg bitten off and his left foot badly damaged in a white shark attack at Clovelly Corner today.

The man is in a stable condition in hospital. He was rescued from the water by a two volunteer counsellors.

Photo (captured on film by 'Bruce') of helicopter on Clovelly beach - about to airlift the shark victim to hospital today.

See rescuers (good Samaritans) account of what happened:

https://stfrancischronicle.com/2011/09/29/good-samaritans-rescue-shark-victim-and-seal-keeps-shark-at-bay/

This is the second shark attack incident in the Western Cape in the last two months. A 49 year-old surfer, died in August this year after being bitten by a suspected Great White shark on his upper left leg and around his groin area. See: https://stfrancischronicle.com/2011/08/23/surfer-dies-after-white-shark-bite/

According to a release from the City of Cape Town: “Shark Spotters first sighted two Great White Sharks at 9.15. The alarm was sounded and the beach closed and the white flag raised. Once the sharks had moved back out the bay the Red Warning Flag was raised as per standard safety protocol.

“At approximately 10.50 Shark Spotters re-sighted two Great White Sharks for the second time within Fish Hoek Bay. As per protocol the shark siren was again sounded, the beach cleared of swimmers and the shark flag raised. In both cases, sms notification of the sighting was distributed via the Disaster Risk Management (DRM) notification system.

“At around 12.25 the mountain Shark Spotter saw a swimmer enter the water near the Clovelly Corner area. The spotter tried to sound the alarm, but due to a Eskom related city-wide electricity failure the alarm did not sound. The spotter notified his colleague on the beach as well as Monwabisi Sikweyiya, the Shark Spotting operations manager by radio. The beach spotter began to run toward Clovelly corner to warn the swimmer while Monwabisi drove to Clovelly corner.

“Just after 12.25, according to eye witness Kyle James, a large shark casually and slowly approached the swimmer. At this point the swimmer was swimming parallel to the beach in a southerly direction just off the brown water emanating from the Silvermine River mouth.

“The shark (about 4-5 metres in length) approached the man from behind who was unaware of the sharks’ presence. The shark lunged for the swimmer, shook him once, then let go and moved off 5 to 10 metres away.”

According to the NSRI report, at 12. 24 today NSRI Simonstown volunteer duty crew were activated following reports of a man being bitten by a shark while swimming at Clovelly Corner close to Fish Hoek Beach.

When they reached the scene they found the man on shore suffering complete amputation of his right leg, above the knee, and partial amputation of his left leg, below the knee. The man was conscious when paramedics arrived on scene and he was sedated by the paramedics, then airlifted by helicopter to Constantiaberg Medi-Clinic hospital by the Discovery ER-24 helicopter in a critical condition.

It was reported that doctors at the hospital were trying to save as much of the man’s foot and lower left leg as possible.

The man is reported to be a British citizen, known as Michael Cohen,  who is also a resident  in South Africa.

NSRI Simonstown volunteer duty crew had immediately launched their sea rescue craft when they got the call and raced to the scene. The EMT (Emergency Medical Treatment) paramedics, CMR (Cape Medical Response) paramedics, Metro EMS, ER-24 private ambulance service, the Discovery ER-24 helicopter, Disaster Management, Fish Hoek Surf Lifeguards responded and the SAP also responded to assist.

Apparently the City of Cape Town shark spotters had flown the “Sharks present – No Swimming” flags since early this morning.

The shark victim, Cohen, had personally been warned by shark spotters, not to swim due to the presence of at least three White Sharks visible in the water close inshore since this morning. He regularly swam at the same spot and was attacked 50 m off the beach.

After the attack a lone white shark was filmed swimming in the area by a bystander, ‘Bruce’.

A lone great white shark (captured on film by 'Bruce') in the sea just after the shark attack.

At this time of year warnings are also posted, through the press, by NSRI and the City of Cape Town warning of higher than normal concentrations of shark activity close in-shore particularly along the False Bay coastline where shark researchers have identified the phenomenon of increased shark activity close inshore.

See: https://stfrancischronicle.com/2011/08/29/warning-increased-white-shark-activity-along-false-bay-coastline/

“We are encouraging bathers and surfers not to enter the water today and to be generally cautious swimming or surfing along the False Bay Coastline and, where shark spotters are present, to obey the shark spotters’ instructions,” the NSRI says.

Also according to the City of Cape Town, the actions and response by Monwabisi Sikweyiya following the attack are highly praised and commended. His actions included: applying a belt as a tourniquet to the victim’s bitten leg, elevating the injured leg, stemming the blood flow with his shirt, contacting the NSRI for emergency medical response.

” Without this immediate, rational and professional response by Monwabisi Sikweyiya the victim more than likely would have bled to death on the beach.”

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