It’s summer in South Africa and for many, that means heading to the beach over the holiday period.

While overall white shark activity in False Bay remains low, the Shark Spotters programme reminds beach-goers that there is always the possibility of encountering a white shark in the ocean around Cape Town.

“We have spotted multiple large bronze whaler sharks at Shark Spotters beaches in the past week and there have been confirmed reports of a small white shark sighting at Macassar over the weekend. Sporadic white sharks sightings such as this highlight the importance of exercising caution when swimming, surfing or paddling in False Bay,” the organisation said on Facebook.

“Water users have been engaging in increasingly risky behaviour in False Bay over the past few years due to the low white shark activity”, Shark Spotters added. “We urge people to act more responsibly in the ocean and to learn simple safety tips that will help them to reduce the risk of encountering a shark close to shore.”

Here are some of Shark Spotters’ general tips on what to do should you encounter a shark:

  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 users 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: Pixabay

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