Shark expert Alex Buttigieg, known as the 'Sharkman', has expressed some scepticism over reports by a windsurfer that a three-metre long shark circled his surfboard for 45 minutes last Saturday and bit off a piece of his sail, which was in the water.

David Bonavia, 35 of Valletta said the incident took place off Fort St Elmo.

Mr Buttigieg said he had his doubts about the incident for several reasons but basically because of the length of time the shark reportedly spent near the man. He also questioned the veracity behind the claim that the surfboard's sail had been damaged in an attack.

"I can understand that five minutes alone with a big fish would seem like a lifetime but usually sharks attack, bite and leave," he said, adding that such long shark sightings were unheard of unless a large number of people were at sea, such as in the case of a shipwreck.

He also doubted how the shark had attacked the sail "which supposedly would float horizontally", after seeing footage of the damage which to his expert eyes seemed unlikely to have been caused by a three-metre shark.

Mr Buttigieg, however, said he was unable to exclude the possibility of the predator being a shark "as it's not the first time a shark followed a ship outside harbour".

The shark expert said there should be no cause for alarm so far as the sighting was not close to shore where people would be swimming.

Mr Bonavia's account appeared to receive some corroboration from kite surfer Clive Xuereb who said in a comment to that he saw a large fish off Exiles, Sliema (not far from Fort St Elmo) on Saturday.

I was kitesurfing around 200m off the coast. I have seen hundreds of dolphins and I can confirm this was no dolphin, it surfaced slowly, and very different than a dolphin, I hope you start believing," he wrote.

He admitted that he did not file a police report as he believed this was a large tuna and never imagined a shark was few a metres away from him.

See windsurfer's account at:

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