The Corona Open J-Bay stop of the WSL’s Championship Tour was called off yesterday after a shark breached the water close to the lineup
BREAKING: event on hold again today due to second shark spotted mid-heat. More below.
The event’s water patrol spotted the breach and immediately scrambled to pick up competitors Filipe Toledo and Julian Wilson during one of the heats. Third surfer Jordy Smith had just caught a wave and made his own way in to shore.
The shark spotted, a 2 metre mako, was part of a “larger feeding activity” that was happening at the time, and so the decision was made to call off the event for the day.
Another big fish enters the lineup and halts the heat between Mick Fanning and Gabriel Medina. World Surf League are saying six foot? What do you think?
Shark attack history at Jeffrey’s Bay
It’s not the first time the iconic J-Bay event, held at Jeffrey’s Bay in South Africa, has been interrupted by sharks in the water. In 2015 Australian surfer Mick Fanning was attacked by a great white shark during the event, which was broadcast live on TV. He remarkably emerged unscathed after he “punched [the shark] in the back,” after it launched itself at him from behind.
He later described the attack:
“I was just about to start moving and then I felt something grab [and] get stuck in my leg rope. And I instantly just jumped away and it just kept coming at my board. I was just started kicking and screaming. Wow!”
“I just saw fin, I didn’t see the teeth. I was waiting for the teeth to come at me as I was swimming.”
South Africa’s oceans are known to be ‘sharky’ with a migrating population of great whites and other species, and are the third most prevalent for attacks behind the US and Australia. However J-Bay itself is considered one of the safer areas.
“The last shark attack [before Mick Fanning’s attack] that happened in that area was in 2013,” said National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesman Craig Limbanon, when local Burgert van der Westhuizen was killed by a 5 metre great white while swimming at the end of the zone surf.
Across South Africa, records show that since 1905 there have been at least 395 recorded shark encounters with humans, 96 fatal. Yet compared to the numbers of people that surf, swim and dive there every year, the chance of being attacked is still tiny.