07 June 2005

Kill the killer, says grieving father of shark attack victim

The father of 22-year-old shark victim Henri Murray is opposed to calls made to exterminate the predators, but says he wouldn't object if the Great White that attacked his son was killed.

"I don't have a grudge against sharks after what happened to my son. We shouldn't get up in arms and eliminate them all. They have a place, as we do," said George Murray. "(But) that particular shark is dangerous and if we can stop it, we should."

Marine Coastal Management communications head Carol Moses said the government took shark attacks seriously.

"The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism is doing scientific research about the relationship between shark cage diving and the incidence of attacks. For now, it is illegal to kill Great White sharks."

Moses noted that a public outcry against sharks often arose after attacks, but the families of the victims commonly came to the predators' defence.

Following the attack in November in which Tyna Webb, 77, died, a number of people called for a war on sharks. But Webb's daughter, Isabelle, was among the first to rebuff them, saying: "My mother would be horrified (by this). She had such a respect for life in any form."

Geremy Cliff, head of research at the Natal Sharks Board in Durban, spoke out against a call that has been made to rid Cape Town waters of sharks.

"We have to get away from the notion that sharks, especially Great Whites, are cruising around waiting to attack people."

Emphasising that the question of killing the killer shark was difficult, Cliff said: "What you have to ask is, 'Is this shark likely to attack again?'"

Police divers took advantage of good weather on Monday and went out to search for Murray for the third day in succession.

The search had been called off at 3.30pm on Sunday. The area would be monitored for the next few days, said NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon.

A memorial service for Murray jun is to be held at 3pm on Thursday at the Old Dutch Reformed Church in Stellenbosch and will be open to the public.

Murray had been spearfishing 150 metres off the beach at Miller's Point with a friend, Piet van Niekerk, 23, when a huge Great White tried to grab him from below. Murray twice managed to evade the Great White, but at its third attempt, it pulled him under.

Van Niekerk, a few metres away, shot the shark with his speargun, but failed to deter it. Van Niekerk swam to shore to alert emergency services.

Rescuers have found only the top half of Murray's wetsuit, his speargun, one fin, his mask, snorkel and parts of a weight belt.

There have been no further sightings of the shark.

It was last seen on Sunday afternoon off Kalk Bay and Simon's Town, dragging Van Niekerk's spear and a buoy.

Source: www.iol.co.za


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