Bather bitten by shark

2009-12-31 00:00

FORMER Hilton College pupil Simon Bruce (20) of Richmond was upbeat yesterday and determined to continue his holiday after being bitten on the foot by a shark at Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday morning.

Speaking via cellphone, Bruce told The Witness he is “fine”, although his foot is swollen and sore.

He feels very lucky that his injuries are not more severe.

He sustained five bites in his left foot, three of which are “quite big and deep” and required stitches.

“I was walking out into the sea at about 8.30 am. The water was a little bit murky, but it was really flat. I was walking on a sandbank and I was no more than chest deep when I felt a bump on my foot. I didn’t feel the bite at all.

“Then I felt the shark rub against the top of my legs and I freaked. I assumed straightaway it was a shark.”

He said he did not see the shark at all and immediately headed back to the beach.

While he was wading back to shore his foot started to “feel funny” and he realised he had been bitten.

His wounds bled quite badly.

Two friends on the beach wrapped his foot in a towel and took him to hospital.

He received an anti-tetanus injection, the bite wounds were disinfected and stitched, and his foot was bandaged.

Bruce said the reaction of most people to news of the attack was disbelief. “They think I’m playing the fool,” he said.

He plans to continue his journey to Coffee Bay to spend the New Year with his friends.

His father, Richmond dairy farmer Div Bruce, said the family is extremely thankful that his son’s injuries are not more serious.

It was a shock to hear that he had been attacked by a shark, which immediately brought to mind the worst case scenario, he said.

Bruce, a keen sportsman who excelled at swimming and water polo at school, matriculated from Hilton College two years ago.

His sense of adventure caused him to take a “gap year” to crew on a yacht and travel overseas before he enrolled to study civil engineering at the University of Cape Town this year.

The head of research at the Natal Sharks Board, Geremy Cliff, speculated yesterday that a ragged-tooth shark may have been responsible for the attack.

“Without having sight of the wound, it is difficult to say with any certainty, but it appears on the face of it to be a fairly superficial injury, which would be consistent with a bite by a ragged-tooth shark,” he said.

He said this species is common in the Port Alfred area and is often encountered close inshore.

He said these sharks have “grabbing rather than cutting” teeth like other shark species.

“It’s almost like attacking someone with a plank of spiky nails,” Cliff added.

He said it is extremely unlucky and rare for anyone to be bitten by a shark.

“To put it in perspective, on average there are only six shark attacks in South Africa annually, of which one may be fatal.

“Taking into account the hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers who go swimming daily on all our coastlines, the risk of a shark attack is very, very small indeed,” Cliff added.

Bruce — who enjoys scuba diving — disagreed that the bite was inflicted by a ragged-tooth shark as they have rows of small, thin teeth, unlike the wounds on his foot.

The incident follows a shark attack on Peter Fraser (27) of Rustenburg, who was badly bitten by a two-metre-long Zambezi shark while swimming at Ponta d’Ouro in Mozambique last week.

Fraser said he hit out at the shark with his flipper.

He suffered a wound of about 20 cm long on his back, lost a chunk of flesh from his right shoulder and has bites to his right upper and forearm, chest and right hand.

He was taken to a first-aid clinic by his girlfriend’s father, Kobus Latsky, from where he was airlifted to Manguzi at Kosi Bay by helicopter, and thereafter to Empangeni where he underwent surgery.


Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.