Missing lifeguard ‘not attacked by a shark’

2009-04-06 00:00

With just days to go before the Easter weekend, speculation that a lifeguard may have been attacked by a shark on the KZN coastline has surfaced — however, most authorities have strongly denied this, though none would rule out the possibility.

According to the police, the Port Shepstone lifeguard and two colleagues were on a routine swim at Umtentweni beach when he disappeared.

Apparently, the trio were caught in a rip tide. Only two managed to swim ashore.

“When they looked for their colleague, they could not see him,” said police spokesman Captain Vincent Pandarum.

Members of the Sharks Board and the Search and Rescue Unit responded. They even conducted an aerial search by helicopter that “proved fruitless”.

According to a correspondent, the two lifeguards reportedly said they saw a fin in the water.

However, the owner of Ubuntu, the lifeguarding service that they work for, Hilgard Muller, said he personally spoke to everyone on the beach and they all (including the lifeguards) denied seeing a shark. “We can’t just jump to conclusions if the body hasn’t been found,” he said.

Geremy Cliff, head of the research department at the Sharks Board, said the chances of this incident being a shark attack are very unlikely.

The helicopter patrol told our guys that they saw a five metre-long Zambezi Shark in the water,” he said. “But Zambezi Sharks do not grow to that length.”

He added that Zambezi sharks are seldom spotted on the water surface, and that the only kind of shark that they might have seen, judging by the description, is a Whale Shark. “These are harmless,” he said.

Craig Lambinon, spokesman for National Sea Rescue Institute, said the search for the lifeguard is still under way.

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