Shark experts set to sue media

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Posted by on March 30, 2005 at 23:34:26:

Cape Town - South African shark experts are considering legal action against foreign media over "sensational" coverage of an attack by a Great White during a shark-diving excursion.

Mariette Hopley, chairperson of the Great White Shark Protection Foundation, lashed out on Tuesday against media reports on an apparent attack on a diver in a cage off Hermanus.

Mark Currie of Cumbria, England, made news this week when he told of his narrow escape near Hermanus when a shark bit at a steel cage in which he was diving.

A video of the incident was screened on British and American TV.

According to reports, Currie narrowly escaped death after the shark suddenly attacked the cage.

Hopley said the video footage showed the bait, thrown for the shark, floating past the cage.

"According to guidelines we have to follow, we are not allowed to feed the sharks.

"The bait is immediately pulled back into the boat if a shark goes for it.

'These are all lies'

"In this instance, the shark bit one of the rails. It happened twice more and when he realised it was not food he swam away."

Hopley said reports that someone on the boat had scared off a shark with a steel pole were incorrect.

"These are all lies. We are considering legal action against the media that first spread the stories."

She said this is not the first time something like this had happened during an excursion.

"One mustn't lose track of the fact that shark diving is an adrenalin sport.

This incident was simply a common action-packed day on such an excursion. We put the safety of clients and sharks high on our priorities list."

But, Currie said he definitely would dive with sharks again.

Hopley had been reacting to the reports only a day after British tourist Chris Sullivan was bitten by a shark on his calf while surfing off Noordhoek Beach.

Sullivan was admitted to Constantiaberg Medi-Clinic.

Hopley said it was a pity a shark had bitten a tourist to South Africa.

It was unfair, however, to blame the incident on shark-diving operators as the closest one to Noordhoek was on the other side of the peninsula, she said.

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