My two hours with a Cape Cobra

What originally seemed like a harmless piece of seaweed at the water's edge in Hout Bay, turned out to be a highly venomous Cape Cobra, out for a morning swim on the popular beach.
Cape Town – Snake expert, Shaun Macleod, speaks to eNCA on the cobra found at Hout Bay near Cape Town. Video: eNCA
Jeffrey Rink, a clinical psychologist living in Hout Bay, said he stumbled upon a venomous cobra while walking on the beach. "Really, it looked like a piece of seaweed," he explained. Photo: Supplied / Jeffrey Rink / Eco Psychology Africa
Hout Bay resident Jeffrey Rink says he spotted a Cape Cobra on the beach while walking on Sunday, November 9. Two of his photographs had causes a stir on Facebook and Twitter, and he was upset not to get credit for the pictures. Photo: Facebook / Hout Bay Organized /Jeffrey Rink
While walking on Hout Bay beach on Sunday, November 9 resident Jeffrey Rink saw a large and venomous snake. Rink and another beachgoer shooed the Cape Cobra from the shoreline towards nearby sand dunes. Photo: Supplied / Jeffrey Rink
Hout Bay resident Jeffrey Rink told that he and a woman herded a Cape Cobra from the beach inland, where it slithered under a log (pictured). Photo: Supplied / Jeffrey Rink
Hout Bay residents spotted a large Cape Cobra slithering along the beach on Sunday, November 9. Jeffrey Rink said it looked like a piece of seaweed once it had slithered under a log. Photo: Supplied / Jeffrey Rink

HOUT BAY, Cape Town - Jeffrey Rink had been taking regular walks on Hout Bay beach for more than ten years without incident.

Days ago, however, his usual stroll was interrupted by an encounter with a terrifying creature - a venomous snake.

"Really, it looked like a piece of seaweed," said Rink in a telephonic interview with

The snake Rink spotted -- a Cape Cobra -- is one of the most venomous snakes on the African continent. On Sunday, the specimen found its way onto the sands of Hout Bay beach and Rink was there to capture it all on camera at around 15:45 CAT.

He told he was upset to hear and read others were taking credit for the photographs he took.  

At first, it seemed Janice Gianna Wagner was the source of the images, which celebrity Vanessa Heywood then shared on Twitter.

But Rink says he took the original pictures and then sent them to his partner who shared them with Wagner. She posted the photographs on a community Facebook group for Hout Bay residents. 

Rink confirmed the sighting of the Cape Cobra was true and not a Photoshop hoax. A couple of Hout Bay residents, including Michelle Clarke, responded to confirm the sighting.

Wagner had told she was walking with a cousin and a friend when she saw the slithery swimmer.

"It is real and it is ridiculous to Photoshop," Wagner told in a text message.

Some Hout Bay residents and others on Twitter expressed disbelief at the remarkable photographs of a large snake (by some estimates around 1.8 metres long) on the popular beach.

But, responding to an story on the topic, there were some who were adament the snake pictures were legitimate.

"We herded it from the sea," Rink explained of his encounter with the cobra. Rink and another beachgoer called Claire managed to coerce it away from the water and towards a log.

"I kept people and dogs away." 

"It wasn't aggressive and I know the striking distance," he said when asked if he was fearful of the reptile.

Rink says the cobra burrowed itself into the sand under the log until it was barely noticeable, which he admitted was the scariest part.

He said anyone walking past unawares would not have been aware of the cobra hiding in the sand.

"It was about two hours I spent with a Cape Cobra," he said of his experience.

Interestingly, Rink is a clinical psychologist with an interest in environmental issues. He runs environmnetal retreats as a form of therapy, and this wasn't the first time he had encountered a snake.

"Snakes are actually an interest of mine." he said cheerily. Sounds like the perfect person to herd a dangerous cobra from the sea into the sand.

* Watch an amateur video clip from Jeffrey Rink of the encounter, in the gallery above. 

** This story was amended. It originally stated Skye Grove saw the snake firsthand but she contacted the author to say she had not. 

*** Snake expoert Shaun MacLeod spoke to eNCA about the Hout Bay cobra. Watch the video in the gallery above.


Discussion Policy would like to send you push notifications.
Notifications can be turned off any time in your browser settings.
You have been registered for browser notifications