Spear-fisherman lucky to escape after being dragged out to sea by shark

18 December 2019 - 18:46 By Matthew Savides
A great white shark dragged a spear-fisherman about 50m out to see on Wednesday in the Eastern Cape.
A great white shark dragged a spear-fisherman about 50m out to see on Wednesday in the Eastern Cape.

A spear-fisherman was dragged by a great white shark for about 50m before being able to free himself and get to shore safely on Wednesday.

The shark was about 5m long.

NSRI Plettenberg Bay station commander Marc Rodgers said an eyewitness called in a "shark encounter" incident at 10.13am on Wednesday.

"The eyewitness was confident that a shark had taken the spear-fisherman. Only his fishing floatation buoy remained on the sea surface, about 200m offshore of rocks at Salt River, but there was no sign of the spear-fisherman," said Rodgers.

A rescue vessel was launched and when crew got to the location, a flotation buoy was recovered with only a head of a musselcracker fish attached.

At the same time, a man in a wetsuit was spotted on the shore - although initially it was not clear whether he was the spear-fisherman who had been dragged by the shark.

A short while later, the man - identified as Theodore Prinsloo - contacted the NSRI after seeing them go out to the scene. He confirmed that he had been pulled by the shark and reported being safe and uninjured.

According to Rodgers, Prinsloo - who was visiting the Nature's Valley area in the Western Cape with his family - said the shark had swum up quite close to him while he was fishing, so he decided to stay close to the rocks.

"About 20 minutes after catching an approximately 8kg to 9kg musselcracker that he hooked to a floatation buoy attached to his speargun, the shark grabbed the fish and made off out to sea, dragging the buoy - and Prinsloo - with it," said Rodgers.

"Theodore was able to release the flotation buoy after being dragged for a distance of about 50m towards deep sea and he quickly swam ashore."

He said Prinsloo told him he had spotted a shark in the same area on Tuesday, which he suspects to be the same one he encountered on Wednesday.

"NSRI encourage bathers, divers and spear-fishermen to be cautious of the dangers of the sea when swimming and diving," added Rodgers.