With summer on the horizon, despite the recent chill and reports of snow on the outlying Western Cape peaks, shark season is upon us. But for the Capetonian beachgoer, there’s one more element of the wild to be mindful of when swimming in the sea – snakes.

A video filmed at a Paternoster beach this past weekend shows a Cape cobra making the most of the sunny weather by slithering into the sea, much to the amazement of filmer Juliette Thirsk, whose dogs started “playing” with what looked like kelp at first.

Very soon she realised the kelp was actually a snake, casually gliding through the breakers in the shallows.



It’s not rare to observe a snake taking a dip in the sea but it is an uncommon sight. Cape cobras will only attack when cornered or threatened and will always try to avoid danger. These highly-venomous snakes may raise their their upper-half of their body, fan out their hood and hiss as a defensive warning – this should not be interpreted as a sign of aggression. Read our guide to venomous snakes found in the Cape for more.

Featured photography Gerrie Heyns / Cape Snake Conservation

Article written by

Justin Williams

Justin Williams is a born-and-bred Capetonian with a flair for writing. His icons include the late South African authors Lawrence Green, Eric Rosenthal and T.V. Bulpin, literary figures who continuously inspire him to cover the avenues of lifestyle, travel and nature in a local context. When Justin's not covering a story, he can be found in the mountains - he's a renowned wild food forager and is currently learning herbalism.