EAST LONDON, South Africa
A backpacker filming
surfers on South Africa's east coast captured
another sort of adventure story this week — rare
footage of a great white shark attack.
with his surfboard, indented with
the teeth marks from a great white
A video recording of the incident, considered
by shark experts to be unique, shows a second
shark also lining up to attack 15-year-old Shannon
Ainslie, a surfer from East London.
Ainslie was surfing with his brother and
friends on Monday when he came face to face with
one of the sharks.
"I was just catching a wave when the shark
came up and made a grab for me. Next thing I knew
I was underwater and came face to face with the
shark," he told Reuters.
"I looked straight into its eyes and
thought I was dreaming."
Ainslie escaped with a severely injured right
hand, almost losing a middle finger that hung by
just a thread.
"I was in a state of shock and just prayed
to God to let me live," he said.
His ordeal was caught on film by Canadian
backpacker Sean Smith, who just happened to be
videotaping the surfers.
Perhaps the first film of a shark attack on a
surfer, the tape is brief but stunning.
In seconds, Ainslie is thrown from his board as
the 4-meter (13-ft) shark attacks from the left.
A dorsal fin can be seen towering the wave as
the shark's jaws clamp the back of the board and
drag it under the water.
Ainslie came face to face with
The second shark is clearly silhouetted against
a breaking wave moving in from the right toward
the surfboard, but it drops away at the last
"I am very, very surprised to hear that
there was a second shark there. It is very unusual
for great whites to hunt in pairs. They don't hunt
together, they only hunt alone," said Willie
Maritz, the chief of marine services in East
The tape's scientific value is enormous, he
Maritz said sharks often attack surfboards
because they mistake them for seals, sea turtles
or large fish.
"It was probably just tasting and decided
it was something it couldn't eat because it
immediately swam away," he said.
There have been three fatalities over the past
five years from shark attacks in the East London
Maritz said July was the most dangerous month
for surfing off East London, when great whites and
other sharks follow migrating schools of sardines
north before returning to the seal colonies off
the Cape Peninsula.