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06/06/2020 - Sharon Armstrong, Kayak -South Africa - No Injury

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06/06/2020 - Sharon Armstrong, Kayak -South Africa - No Injury

Post by alb »

Sharon Armstrong, a surf ski rider, was thrown into the water by a shark off the coast of South Africa.
white shark attacks kayak

She had been taking advantage of the beautiful sunny afternoon June 16 near Durban in Umhlanga, South Africa.

The avid water woman went for a paddle in her white surf ski, which is similar to a kayak, and was intrigued by the unusually clear water.

Looking below the water’s surface, she found it strange that there was no visible marine life.

Around 2 p.m. she headed back into shore and was around 500 meter (546yd) when her boat was attacked by a shark.

“I heard a massive bang which resembled a car accident, she told Tracking Sharks.

Within moments she was flung into the water.
“I knew immediately it was a shark.”

Panic set in as Armstrong flipped her ski over and struggled to climb in. To make matters worse, her leash had wrapped under the boat and around her legs, preventing her from fully mounting the ski.

“I realized that the more I splashed and panicked, the less chance I had of remounting the ski and the more chance I had of attracting the shark back to possibly attack my legs that were thrashing around,” she said. “I was just anxiously dreading the next possible attack on my boat or myself.”

She took a deep breath to calm herself down and worked her way back onto the vessel.

Once she was fully seated, she looked for damage on the boat and thought everything was good.

She then started paddling, but the shark had damaged the rudder and created a hole in the boat.

“I tried to only paddle on the one side in an attempt to get the boat to veer right, but that was unsuccessful,” she said. She explained she had to back paddle to line up the ski with the beach, paddle forward a few strokes, stop, and line up the ski again.

“I wasn’t sure if the shark was still around and following me so when my boat filled up with water, there was a bit of a worry. Three hundred metres (328 yd) before backline I became concerned that my boat was about to sink and envisioned that I might have to swim the rest of the way.”

Even though the boat was filled with water, she was able to navigate back to shore through the surf and land on shore.

Armstrong’s GoPro footage shows what appears to be the snout of a large shark in the bottom left corner of the screen.

The species of shark involved is not confirmed but is believed to be a great white shark. White sharks are ambush predators that will often strike with great force from beneath the waves.

While other potential species include bull and tiger sharks do pass through the area, it is likely that they were involved as they may have been more persistent in investigation or in an attack.

The force of the impact, style of attack, location, the fact the shark was not seen again, and the damage to the ski seems indicative of a white shark attack.

Armstrong is extremely safety-oriented and was following Corona virus restriction that only allowed individual exercise.

Not only was she carrying two cell phones and a personal locating beacon device, but also used a smartphone app which tracked her course and let friends know her plans.

SafeTrx, the app she used, has a button that reaches out to a local rescue organization and shows trusted friends her status on the water. In addition, she used a leash attached to the surf ski to ensure she did not get separated from the vessel and always wears a personal floatation device.

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