Plettenberg Bay alert after helicopter chases shark from surfers

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“The shark was really determined to get to those surfers …” So says the helicopter pilot who yesterday saved surfers in Plettenberg Bay from a shark encounter.

Pilot Glen Brown had been flying honeymoon couple Johan and Candice Fouche and a woman passenger on a pleasure flip in his Robinson 44 helicopter, which is fitted with flotations, at 3pm above Robberg beach.

“I was doing one of my normal helicopter flights – just over the bay and back. I was at 1 500ft when I spotted a Great White. You see them very rarely,” he told the Cape Argus today.

“So I turned around, and realised that the shark was starting to speed up to some surfers. I’m a commercial diver too, so I know what they’re up to when they start getting agro and doing a little dance in the water.

“I dived down and basically got myself and the helicopter between the shark and the surfers. I started to push him out with my rotor wash (the air that comes off the rotors). It looked a bit like a hurricane. We pushed him out to sea, then turned around to chase the surfers out.

“But when I turned around he was coming back again. So I chased him out again. He was really determined to get to those surfers. It was weird – usually they would just swim past.

“I told the passengers to make whatever hand signals they could to the surfers to get out.”

It appears, however, that the surfers waved back cheerily, unaware of the threat, but eventually realised and paddled to shore.

Brown monitored the shark as it left the area until it was lost beneath the sea surface.

“The whole incident took four or five minutes,” he said. “We were all quite shocked, but what else can you do?”

The couple, who are professional photographers from Table View, then showed the surfers the photographs they took during the incident.

The surfers said they were unaware of the shark’s presence until the helicopter’s intervention.

The National Sea Rescue Institute has issued a warning to bathers and surfers along the Plettenberg Bay coast following the incident.

“There has been noticeably increased shark activity closer in-shore over the past few days,” said NSRI Plettenberg Bay station commander Ray Farnham.

“The shark working group confirmed that the changing of seasons shows increased shark activity at shark feeding grounds.”


~ by Matt Medved on May 17, 2007.

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