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Feisty Shark Bites Tuna Skipper

A skipper on a tuna boat off Cape Point has been bitten by a shark - five minutes after explaining to his crew what they should do if a shark is caught in their nets.

The bite left Gabriel Fernandez, 40, of Bothasig, with cuts on two fingers on his right hand and a 6cm cut on his right arm on Monday. He has told NSRI members he failed to follow his own advice.

Once ashore, he said the shark had been caught on a tuna line.

“I was pulling the shark in - and it turned around and bit me instead. It was a blue shark and was just over a meter long.”

An NSRI team collected him from the fishing boat, the Southwest Sea Hawk, off Cape Point and took him to Hout Bay Harbour.

As the NSRI boat neared the quay, Fernandez could be seen standing on board, holding his thickly bandaged hand upright.

He smiled as he saw the waiting group of reporters, photographers and cameramen.

As he was led ashore, Fernandez joked that he was "star-struck" to see so many people waiting for him.

Asked if the encounter with the shark was his first, Fernandez - speaking as he was being led to a Metro EMS ambulance and surrounded by paramedics and reporters - said it was “not really”.

It was, however, the first time a shark had injured him.

He climbed into the ambulance and paramedics closed the doors so they could examine his injuries.

About five minutes later, the doors opened and a smiling Fernandez stuck his head out.

“I’m feeling all right. I won't be able to play the piano, but then I never could before this,” Fernandez joked.

The ambulance doors were then closed and the skipper was taken to the Constantiaberg Medi-Clinic.

Earlier, Brad Geyser, station commander of the Hout Bay NSRI, said the Southwest Sea Hawk, with 16 crew members, was about 30 miles off the west coast of Cape Point when Fernandez was bitten.

“They were catching tuna when they hooked a shark,” he said.

“They were trying to disentangle it from the side of the boat and it leapt out of the water and bit (Fernandez).”

Geyser said Fernandez had told the rescue crew that five minutes before he had been bitten, he had explained to his crew what they should do if a shark became caught in the fishing nets.

“(Fernandez) said that he didn't follow his own advice, although the NSRI has not determined what his advice was or how he handled the matter (of releasing the shark).”

Geyser said it was the first time in his 34 years with the NSRI that he had met someone who was on a boat when he was bitten by a shark.

He said the owner of the tuna boat had gone out to take over as skipper.