Summer in the Cape: beware the tides and sharks

Posted by Imogen Searra on 3 January 2019

Cape Town boasts many pristine beaches with bracing waters that are perfect for beating the heat during the sweltering summer months. Splashing around in the waves is a lot of fun, but we cannot forget that we share our ocean with an apex predator: the great white shark.

While sharks do not have a taste for humans, it is best to educate yourself and take precautionary measures when you plan on going for a dip.

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While Durban is definitely no stranger to sharks, the cooler western waters of Gansbaai and False Bay are known to have the highest population of great white sharks in the world.

Other types of sharks that can be found in Cape waters are bronze whalers and sevengill cow sharks.

The Shark Spotters organisation has members on duty at eight beaches in Cape Town: Fish Hoek, Muizenberg, St James, Glencairn, Clovelly, Noordhoek, Koggel Bay, and Monwabisi.

Shark spotters work in teams of two, one as the lookout and one as the patroller. The lookout is positioned on a mountain overlooking the beach the team is stationed at.

This provides a good view over the sea where he or she can spot any sharks nearby or approaching the shore (although not all of Cape Town’s beaches have an area that is both close and elevated enough from which spotters can adequately watch the waters).

The patroller keeps an eye out from a position on the beach and rings a siren if a shark is spotted, whereupon swimmers must exit the water. A white flag is then raised signalling that a shark has been seen.

Thirty Shark Spotters work from dawn until dusk every single day across the demarcated beaches. Of these, Fish Hoek and Muizenberg have the highest shark activity levels throughout the year.

Sometimes spotting conditions can be difficult, depending on weather conditions and water clarity, but the Spotters work tirelessly to ensure water-goers are safe.

If you are planning a trip to any of these beaches, download the Shark Spotters app and check the status on shark sightings, the flag status, as well as other useful information. Be sure to acquaint yourself with the various shark flags so that you are prepared should the flag status change while you are on the beach.


Image source: Pixabay

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