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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 January, 2004, 14:11 GMT
SA shark tour operator shut down
Great White Shark
Great White sharks are known to attack humans
A tour operator has been closed down amid accusations that he endangered bathers by attracting sharks to waters off a popular South African beach.

Theo Ferreira, who lets tourists get close to sharks in special cages, was criticised after throwing chopped fish into the sea near Cape Town.

He says he was trying to lure a big shark away from swimming areas after a recent sighting in the area.

Local authorities have now launched an inquiry into his actions.

"We've told Ferreira he is not allowed to operate his shark cage diving business or use his boat until an inquiry has been completed," Marcel Kroese of the South African Ministry of Environmental Affairs told the Cape Times newspaper.

"We need to establish if he has transgressed the conditions of the shark cage diving permit."

'Huge fins'

Mr Ferreira has been accused by local people of being reckless and endangering lives.

In a letter published by The Argus newspaper, a family said they had watched a charter boat attract huge sharks just offshore while tourists and local people enjoyed the beaches at Fish Hoek, near Cape Town.

"At first we thought it was just another fishing boat trying to catch fish in the bay, but when we saw the huge fins of some of the sharks swimming around the boat we could not believe what we were seeing," the letter said.

Mr Ferreira said he put the chopped fish - known as "chum" - into the sea about three kilometres (1.8 miles) offshore to encourage a big shark to move away from the coast.

"Within two hours we had attracted a four-metre white shark, which we kept around the boat for about an hour to make sure there were no others. Then we coaxed it out to sea with the bait," he said.

Country profile: South Africa
08 Nov 03  |  Country profiles


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