EAST LONDON, South Africa -- Aa East London canoeist found himself in serious deep water after he mistakenly grabbed a Zambezi shark by the tail near the Nahoon River mouth this week.
Zambezi sharks are considered among the most dangerous ocean predators.
Richard Tebbutt was paddling on the river on Thursday afternoon when he saw a fisherman on the bank battling to pull in what seemed to be a “very big fish”.
The civic-minded canoeist leapt out of his canoe, intent on helping the fisherman.
“I just jumped out of my canoe and dived down and grabbed the fish by its tail … I got a shock of my life when I saw a big Zambezi shark, charging towards me,” Tebbutt told the Saturday Dispatch yesterday.
“The shark quickly turned around, grabbed my left arm and lacerated it. Within a split second, I saw my blood in the river.
“I just smacked the shark as hard as I could with my right arm to get it to let go of me,” said Tebbutt.
He succeeded in getting the roughly 1,5-metre predator to back off – but only for a few moments.
“I was in the water holding my arm which was bleeding profusely, and the shark started coming towards me very fast.
“I immediately jumped out of the water onto the rocks and it missed me … I could have been dead by now,” he said.
Once on shore Tebbutt realised he was losing blood. His son, also out paddling, helped take him to a family friend, who rushed Tebbutt to St Dominics Hospital where he had 50 stitches to his left arm.
“I was shocked that I had overcome the shark. Its strength was unbelievable.
“In my 30 years in surfing, I never thought I would have this kind of experience,” he said.
Asked how he felt about canoeing in future, Tebbutt said: “I can’t wait to go back.”
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