Spear-fisherman dragged by shark on Garden Route

Posted on 20 December 2019

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was called to rescue a man dragged out to sea by a white shark while spear fishing in Nature’s Valley along the Garden Route on Wednesday 18 December.

According to the NSRI’s rescue log, the Plettenberg Bay duty crew were activated following eye-witness reports of a spear-fisherman engaged in a shark encounter.

An eye-witness was confident that a shark had taken the fisherman, and that only his fishing flotation buoy remained on the sea surface about 200 metres off-shore of rocks at Salt River, with no sign of the man.

NSRI Coxswain Nick Van Der Handle pictured handing the flotation buoy back to spear-fisherman, Theodore Prinsloo. Image: NSRI, Plettenberg Bay Rescue Base – 18 December 2019.

The sea rescue craft Leonard Smith Rescuer was launched when the eye-witness noticed a fisherman on the shore in a wet-suit, but was uncertain if that was the same spear-fisherman.

The spear-fisherman, later identified as Theodore Prinsloo from Wellington in the Cape, was on holiday with his family. He contacted the NSRI after seeing its rescue craft arriving in the area, and confirmed that he was the spear-fisherman involved in the shark encounter while spear fishing, but that he was safe and out of the water with no injuries.

Prinsloo says the shark swam up close to him, but that he kept close to the rocks. About 20 minutes after catching an 8-9kg musselcracker fish, he hooked the fish to a flotation buoy attached to his spear gun, whereafter the shark grabbed the fish and made off out to sea, dragging the buoy and Theodore along with it.

Theodore released the floatation buoy after being dragged for a distance of about 50 metres towards deep sea, and quickly swam back ashore.

‘We recovered the buoy, line and the fish head onto our sea rescue craft and Theodore and his family came to fetch the buoy and line at our sea rescue base,’ the NSRI stated in its online rescue log. Theodore reportedly said that he needed the buoy to go spear fishing the next day, and was grateful that the NSRI had recovered it.

The NSRI encourages bathers, divers and spear-fishermen to be cautious of the dangers of the sea when swimming and diving.

The NSRI also reported that its volunteers are ‘busier than ever’ as the country’s festive season picks up.

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