The Most Dangerous Beach in the World for Shark Attacks
8 Shark-Related Fatalities at Port St Johns, South Africa
What is the most dangerous beach in the whole world for shark attacks? The deadliest beach in the world is Second Beach at Port St Johns in South Africa, according to my research.
In 2014, the sharks in the waters off Port St Johns claimed yet another life—a 72-year-old Austrian man. He was visiting the beach with a volunteer organization that monitors water conditions. This brings the death toll at Second Beach to eight fatal shark attacks in five years, reinforcing its reputation as the most dangerous beach in the world.
Fatal Shark Attacks Are Rare
Shark attacks, while being pretty rare events all over the world, are seldom fatal. Given that every single one of the attacks at Second Beach have been fatal is deeply worrying. What's strange is that sharks don't even like the taste of humans. They generally only take a sample bite to see how we taste and then let us go.
The extent of our injuries from one bite depends on the size and type of shark, as well as where on our bodies they bite us and the availability of emergency medical assistance. So, what's really going on? Let's have a closer look at what is happening at Second Beach at Port St Johns on South Africa's Eastern Cape province.
Second Beach Shark Attack Death in 2012
Second Beach is popular with swimmers and surfers alike. It is shallow for a good distance out—perhaps 200 metres—before the shelf sinks and the waters get deeper. On January 15th, 2012, 25-year-old Lungisani Msungubana was killed by a bull shark. He had been swimming in waist-deep water with a group of friends about 50 metres offshore.
Lungisani Msungubana's Fatal Attack
At the time, about 100 people were in the water. Witnesses saw the foot-high black fin glide through the murky waters before the shark rose out of the water, its mouth opened wide to take a bite. The bull or Zambesi shark, as they are known as in South Africa, attacked Mr Msungubana with determination.
After knocking him over, it tried to devour him despite him trying to fight it off. All the while, Mr Msungubana was shouting for people to get out of the water and to get themselves to safety. After about 5 minutes, the shark gave up the fight and left the area.
With great trepidation, lifeguards bravely entered the water to pull the badly injured Mr Msungubana to safety, but he was pronounced dead because of severe blood loss despite emergency help being administered by a doctor who was on the beach at the time. He suffered massive bites to his torso, arms and legs, and his femoral artery had ruptured, resulting in his death.
Second Beach Shark Attack Death in 2011
Exactly one year before on January 15th, 2011, 16-year-old Zama Ndamase was practising surfing with his 15-year-old brother, Avuyile. They had been picked to compete for their provincial surfing team and had been doing really well in local competitions.
Zama Ndamase's Fatal Attack
The two were not far from shore and waiting for the next wave when Zama was suddenly dragged underwater by a shark and the sea turned red. His brother headed for the shore screaming for help.
Eventually, Zama managed to get back onto his surfboard and started paddling towards the shore. Lifeguards met him halfway and carried him back, but he was dead by the time he reached the shore because of blood loss.
Earlier Shark Attacks at Second Beach in 2009 and 2010
Port St Johns is a popular tourist hotspot, with many people travelling from inland districts to swim in the sea without having the benefits of experience to tell when it is safe to swim and when it isn't. In 2010, three people were eaten alive by sharks at Second Beach, and yet another person was fatally wounded in 2009. Over a two-year period between 2008 and 2010, an additional 20 people drowned at Second Beach due to its strong currents.
How Lack of Funding Puts Beachgoers in Danger
Lifeguards are employed to look after beachgoers, but when there is not enough municipal money to pay for emergency services, problems arise. Quite often, lifeguards are not on duty at Second Beach, and when they are, they are not provided with life-saving equipment like boats or jet skis to rescue people in trouble who are some distance from the shore. Adding to this, lifeguards frequently hesitate to enter waters where a shark attack is taking place (not unnaturally), considering they have to swim out to the area unprotected.
Is Port St Johns Municipality Truly Short of Money?
Municipal figures claim that the town is short of money, yet Port St Johns is a rich person's playground. People with money have holiday homes there. The rugged southeastern coastline is dotted with beautiful white, sandy beaches between rocky outcrops, and the warm azure waters of the Indian Ocean gently lap shorelines that offer safe, shallow bathing for hundreds of metres outwards. Near the rocky outcrops, huge waves roll, offering a surfer's paradise.
Why Are Sharks Attacking Here?
The odd thing about the spate of fatal shark attacks at Port St Johns is that there were none for more than 20 years. People were swimming with bull (Zambesi) sharks at Second Beach and no attacks took place. Suddenly, the attacks have increased in number and no one knows why.
Some have blamed the local witch doctors who carry out live animal sacrifices on the beach and discard the entrails into the sea (it's the 21st century, folks!). Others have blamed effluent from homes which is piped into the sea. Some people point to cage-diving in other coastal areas of South Africa, believing that this activity is desensitizing sharks to humans and causing sharks to equate humans with food due to the huge amount of 'chum' tipped overboard by operators to attract them.
Off to one side, the giant Umzimvubu River winds its way down through Port St Johns to the Indian Ocean. Long-known as a breeding ground for the Zambesi shark and teaming with fish, the river sometimes carries silt from its mouth directly into the normally clear waters off Second Beach.
No one should swim in murky water, especially water that may carry effluent, fish and Zambesi sharks, which are frequently known as the "pit bulls of the ocean" due to their perseverance and viciousness when attacking.
No one should swim in murky water, especially in known shark habitats and areas that carry effluent and fish.
Shark Experts Focus Their Research on the Region
Experts from South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board (KZNSB) have been drafted in to study the region. They are now catching and tagging sharks with tags which emit an acoustic signal every few minutes. These signals are then picked up by underwater receivers and the data is sent back to the base, allowing oceanographers to track the movement of these sharks.
The research is being directed towards tiger and bull sharks, as those two species have both been involved in the strange events unfolding at Second Beach. Meanwhile, the municipality has discussed installing expensive shark nets around the beach, but this option is not without its pitfalls, too. Installing shark nets will kill many species in addition to the protected sharks.
Secondly, the geography of the coastline would make shark nets difficult to install and maintain, owing to the long, shallow distance from the shore one has to go before reaching waters deeper than waist-deep. Surfers in the deeper water would be offered no protection from the shark nets if they were installed. Unfortunately, no long-term solution has been confirmed.
- World’s Deadliest Beach Claims Its Latest Shark Attack Victim
Port St. Johns' Second Beach in South Africa has been called the deadliest beach in the world, and it lived up to that reputation on Saturday.