A group of scuba divers were surfacing off the coast of eastern South Africa on Wednesday afternoon when a 68-year-old Austrian man went missing.
The dive charter alerted authorities and a massive search began around 1:45 local time in the area of the Protea Banks south of the city of Durban in the province of KwaZulu-Natal where the incident occurred.
“During the search the remains of the body of the man, believed to have been bitten by a shark, were located by crew of a private fishing boat,” the National Sea Rescue Institute said in a statement Wednesday evening, according to European News and The Citizen of South Africa.
“The remains of the body were recovered from the water onto a sea rescue craft and brought to shore.”
Shark attacks occur at a rate of around six a year along the South African coastline, with most blamed on great white sharks and Zambezi sharks, known as the pitbulls of the ocean for their habit of biting and shaking to cause catastrophic injuries.
In 2014 a 72-year-old Austrian tourist was killed by a shark while swimming at Second Beach in the town of Port St Johns, south of Protea Banks. The man was the eighth person to be killed at the beach in five years.
In 2012, Liya Sibili, 22, died on Christmas Day after being taken by a shark in waist-deep water. Only his bathing trunks were recovered despite a three-day search for his body. South Africa’s Natal Sharks Board says only 15 percent of attacks a year are fatal.
Most attacks are on swimmers in warm, shallow waters on beaches in KwaZulu-Natal coast in the east of the country. Protea Banks, about 8km off shore, is a popular site for scuba divers with Zambezi sharks, tiger sharks and occasionally great whites spotted under water.
“I used to dive Protea Banks but no more,” one diver wrote on ScubaBoard.com. “There are just too many Raggies [ragged tooth sharks] and Zambezis [bull sharks] in that area. I’d love to know how many diving fatalities they’ve had up there. Cape Town with great whites seem like paradise compared to Natal.”
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