Surfer Dies After Shark Attack Off South Africa’s Plettenberg Bay Coast

A 49-year-old surfer died today after being attacked by a shark in Plettenberg Bay, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) east of Cape Town.

“The victim has been confirmed as local Plettenberg Bay resident and surfer, Tim van Heerden,” Patty Butterworth, the administrator of the Plettenberg Bay Guest Accommodation & Activities Association, said in a e-mailed statement today, adding that surfers who witnessed the attack said it may have been a great white shark about 2 meters (6.56 feet) in length. “There have been several sightings by surfers of sharks in the same area.”

This is Plettenberg Bay’s first fatal shark attack in 15 years and the second shark attack recorded off South Africa’s coastline in the past three months. A scuba diver was injured off Aliwal Shoal, south of Durban, in June during the annual sardine run when sharks and dolphins feed on the large schools of fish. This month there have been two reported shark attacks in Russia and one in the Seychelles, which was fatal.

Van Heerden was surfing off Lookout Beach near the Keurbooms river mouth and was with a large group of surfers, Craig Lambinon, a spokesman for the National Sea Rescue Institute, said in an interview on his mobile phone. Van Heerden appears to have been bitten in the groin area and the femoral artery may have been severed, Lambinon said, adding that an autopsy will be performed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Renee Bonorchis in Johannesburg at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at; Edward Evans at