A large Dusky shark attacked an Advanced SCUBA diver who was on a dive within the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area yesterday.

Although the injuries sustained by the diver were not fatal, the incident was nevertheless quite serious with the diver being evacuated by air. The diver is now in a stable condition following surgery at Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban.

Speaking about the incident, Mark Addison of Blue Wilderness said that “15 years in the shark diving industry, this has been the first time we have had an encounter such as this at Aliwal Shoal.”

The bite occurred when a large Dusky shark bit at the diver’s fins in what is most likely a case of mistaken identity. The SCUBA diver was wearing split fins with black and grey stripes, and to the shark this may have looked like a small shoal of fish.

According to Addison, “having swum with sharks on thousands of occasions, I can testify that isolated freak accidents such as this rarely occur.”

Although there are more large Dusky sharks around than usual at the moment due to the arrival of the sardine run, there is no reason for them to have any more interest in us than they normally do, and this was really unfortunate”.

Large Dusky sharks generally live offshore, but come closer to shore during this time of the year as they follow the massive shoals of sardines that are making their way up the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal coastlines.

Dusky sharks are listed on the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List as “near threatened” and are one of the most vulnerable of the shark species to exploitation because it reproduces so slowly and at such a late age.

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