As the festive season invites more and more South Africans to our gorgeous Cape Town beaches, we may forget that the oceans we so enjoy are actually not our homes, and aquatic life still ensues naturally as it should.
As part of the seascape’s inhabitants are naturally sharks, of which four have recently been spotted at Strandfontein, Muizenberg and Fish Hoek.
The sharks consisted of great whites and bronze whale sharks – with the great whites being spotted just off of Strandfontein beach. Great white sightings in Cape Town have dwindled since 2018, and so the sightings are rare. Additionally, the last reported shark attack in Cape Town was in 2014, according to the Shark Spotters Safety Education Research Conservation (SSSERC), but this does not mean people should be cautious. According to the SSERC’S data, just under 100 bronze whale sharks have been spotted this year.
The SSSERC, based in Cape Town has recently issued a warning after these sightings were reported, urging beachgoers to be cautious particularly in and around False Bay.
Shark Safety Advice from the SSERC:
1.If you are not fully aware of all of the risks of bathing in the ocean and are not prepared to take these risks, do not go into the ocean.
2.White sharks, like all predators, are more likely to identify a solitary individual as potential prey, so try to remain in a group.
3.White sharks are primarily visual hunters which would normally allow them to correctly distinguish you from their preferred prey species. Therefore, avoid entering the ocean when it is murky, during darkness or twilight hours when sharks rely on their other senses to locate potential prey rather than their vision.
4.When encountering a white shark remain as calm as you can. Assess the situation. Do not panic! Panicked, erratic movements are likely to increase the shark’s curiosity, draw it closer to you and possibly send signals similar to an injured or distressed prey. Use any equipment (camera, surfboard, etc.) you may be carrying to create a barrier between yourself and the shark.
5.If you see a shark, calmly alert other ocean user around you. Remain in or create a group, and leave the water in a calm and swift, but smooth, manner. Alert the lifeguards or shark spotters.
Picture: Tsepo Mlambo