A champion South African bodyboarder has been killed following an attack by a 13-foot-long great white shark off the coast of South Africa and locals are blaming television for the tragedy.
The bodyboarder, David Lilienfeld, died after the shark bit into his right leg below the hip, while Lilienfeld’s younger brother tried fend off the shark with his board.
Witnesses now blame the death on the reality program, “Shark Men” which airs on the National Geographic Channel. Locals say that the crew filming the series had been chumming the area to draw sharks to the production nearby. The series showcases anglers and scientists who capture and tag sharks.
Following the tragedy, Cape Town environmental officials have subsequently yanked the film crew’s research permit, although they did not say that chumming was a factor in the attack.
“There is no evidence or any logical reasoning to link the two, but the national government department that was responsible for that program felt an immense amount of pressure, and as result of that pressure they felt it was just better not to continue with the tagging of the white sharks,” one environmental official told Bloomberg.
The network has stated that it was not involved in the production of the show.
Still, hundreds of outraged people have posted messages on the “Shark Men” Facebook page, upset with the producers for the incident. Although Chris Fischer, who hosts the show, posted that the project had nothing to do with the attack as they had left the area three days earlier.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family of yesterday’s shark attack victim in South Africa. The City of Cape Town has released a report following their review of the incident. Please take the time to read it in full as it addresses the facts surrounding this tragic event. Our response on social media platforms will continue to be limited to sharing data as it becomes available,” the page now reads.
Here’s the report from ABC News about the incident.