Fear of shark attack after bodyboarder goes missing on Wild Coast

(File, NSRI)
  • A massive search and rescue operation is currently underway for a missing bodyboarder, who disappeared along the Chintsa coastline outside East London .
  • It is believed the 38-year-old went missing around 11:00 on Tuesday. 
  • His board was found washed up on the beach with bite marks, sparking fears of a possible shark attack.   

A massive search operation has been launched for a 38-year-old East London bodyboarder who had gone missing while bodyboarding along the Chintsa coastline on the southern Wild Coast. 

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and police were desperately searching for the man on Wednesday, who is feared to have been the victim of a shark attack. 

The alarm bells were raised on Tuesday when the man's board washed up on shore – with a fresh set of "bite marks". 

“It appears that the missing man was bodyboarding and, later in the day, his bodyboard was found washed up on the beach and the man was nowhere to be found and he remains missing,” the NSRI said in a statement on Wednesday.

The board appeared to have bite marks on it that may be from a shark, it said.

As a precaution, the NSRI and Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality are appealing to bathers, paddlers and surfers to be cautious along that stretch of coastline between East London and north of Chinsta.

"Although, at this early stage, a shark incident cannot be confirmed, this public warning is on the assumption that this incident may be shark related and caution is advised,” the NSRI added.

"We are appealing to anyone who may have been in the area of Chinsta Beach on Tuesday at around 11:00 to come forward if they may have noticed anything that may be related to this case. We are appealing to the public that uses that stretch of coastline to keep a look out."

A massive search involving the SA Police Services, Police K-9 Search and Rescue and a Police Dive Unit, joined by a private helicopter, was underway on Wednesday. 

The helicopter was commissioned by a local businessman who volunteered to help, while the Eastern Cape health department's Emergency Management Services rescue helicopter was also used.

Friends of the missing man have launched boats to assist authorities in their search.

Eastern Cape police spokesperson Sibongile Soci said confirmed police were searching for the body of a missing man.

"The search resumed yesterday and continued today. The members continued the search at Chintsa but the search has yielded no positive results, only a board was found. The search will resume again tomorrow. The circumstances surrounding the incident forms part of the investigation," said Soci.