David Bonavia, the windsurfer who claimed to have been attacked by a shark last week, could be seen floating on his board from Valletta, according to witness Victor Galea.

The 54-year-old man from Valletta told The Sunday Times he was sitting with his friends when they saw an object that looked like a piece of floating Jablo.

At the time he thought it was a “ċima tal-lampuki” – a device used to catch the Dorado fish about half a kilometre away from land.

“I asked my friend for binoculars and I could see a man on a surfboard, clearly in distress, waving to passing vessels which were oblivious to his presence,” Mr Galea explained.

“At that point I turned to my friend with surprise and exclaimed, ‘There’s a man over there’!”

The small crowd went to the point underneath St Elmo, where they could see the surfer without binoculars.

“Soon after, a blue fishing boat approached him and somene threw in a red and white tyre. The surfer jumped in the sea and he was hauled up,” Mr Galea said, explaining how the board and sail were left on site and picked up by a dinghy later.

“I did not see any large fish, however, it was very rough and the board was quite far out so I can’t dismiss the idea that there was a large fish – anything is possible,” Mr Galea said, when questioned about the shark.

Mr Bonavia’s claims that a three-metre shark had bit his sail and circled him for 45 minutes were received with mixed feelings – some felt the story was a hoax, while others believed the claim and were too scared to swim.

Mr Galea too has had his own recent experience of a large fish sighting.

Three days before the windsurfer incident, when the sea was calmer, Mr Galea said he saw a large fish in the water, which to him was definitely not a shark, but could have been a dolphin or tuna.

It was only the following day that he heard Mr Bonavia’s story, which had become the talk of town.

“At the time I thought the surfer was a tourist. I had no idea there was a large fish involved but I cannot exclude the possibility.”

Mr Galea said there was talk about how Mr Bonavia was a strong swimmer and an experienced windsurfer, which further indicated something must have happened out there.

In the meantime, a Nature Trust Malta statement yesterday said the NGO had been receiv-ing various reports of tuna sightings closer to shore over the last weeks, “so the large fish seen by this surfer could also have been a tuna or possibly be a sun fish”.

The NGO said shark sightings are very rare around the Maltese coast.

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