Yachstman Survives Shark Attack Off Pemba Island
A PLUCKY South
African yachtsman who survived a shark attack off Pemba Island,
Tanzania, has warmly thanked Kenyan doctors, surgeons and
clinical staff in saving both his life and limb.
Grenville Dunbar, a
computer consultant from Johannesburg, South Africa, was
swimming off the ‘Fundu Gap’, a prime diving location just West
of Pemba, when his right arm and wrist was badly mauled by a
He told Coastweek in
“It was about 3.30
“I was wearing a
black lycra wet suit and swimming slowly on the surface when I
was quite suddenly hit by the shark.
“I didn’t see it
coming ... and I didn’t see it go.
“ I knew immediately
that I had been badly injured because of all the blood in the
“There was no pain.
“I suppose I was in
“It looked a mess”.
Close by was a
‘safety’ dinghy which was following his wife Annete Dunbar and
her friend who were both down 15 metres looking over the
spectacular coral ‘drop-off’ which inclines dramatically to the
“The boat came over
to me in about half a minute.
“I was on sheer
“I just pulled
myself up with my good arm and collapsed into the dinghy.
“There was blood
“ It was spurting
out where the artery and veins had been slashed open.
“I tried to stop the
“I could put my
whole hand into the open wound.”
The shark’s mouth
and teeth had stripped his arm from above the elbow and all the
way down to the wrist.
Three minutes later
his wife and her companion were also out of the water and in
about half an hour they were at their sailing yacht ‘Summer
Breeze’, which was moored close to Pemba Island.
Here they were
joined by Kenya skipper Joe Leichum of Mtwapa in his yacht
After staunching the
blood with a ‘tourniquet’ and a large ship board bandage it was
decided to head for help in Kenya.
A ‘May Day’ distress
call was sent by sea radio to the Pemba Channel Fishing Club at
Shimoni, who in turn arranged for immediate medical attention on
arrival, transport to Mombasa and emergency staff on ‘standy by’
at the Mombasa Hospital.
“I was still losing
blood and full of pain killers on the trip over to Shimoni and
it seemed alright when we arrived around 8.20 p.m.
“But I was very weak
because I collapsed on the way up from the jetty and I was later
told that the medical staff there had given me three bottles of
“It was after
midnight when we got to Mombasa hospital where the doctors and
surgeons did their best to stitch and operate for almost two
“I am lucky to have
the use of my fingers and hand, but the arm is quite stiff.
“I have lost quite a
bit of muscle and tissue, but the tendons are still there and
the surgeons have repaired the damaged artery and veins.”
An experienced sea
diver Grenville, whose wife is also a diving instructor,
believes he was ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’.
“Fishermen in the
area suggest that I was attacked by either a large tiger shark
or a mako shark.”
Some sharks off
Pemba can be upto three metres in length and weigh several
“Personally I don’t
believe the shark wanted to kill me.
“It attacked out of
“When it had taken
the first bite it could have come back and finished the job ...
but it didn’t.
“It was the middle
of the afternoon which is prime feeding time off the ‘Fundu Gap’
where all the kingfish and tunny gather to feed along the
“There is always
lots of fresh feed fish and pieces of food waiting to be picked
“I think this shark
just made a mistake and then took off.”
admitted he was very lucky in being so close to Kenya at the
time of the shark attack.
“I really want to
thank my wife and friends and everyone in Kenya who helped in
the rescue and provided such excellent medical treatment.
“They all saved my