Warning of sharks on Cape Town shores


File: A 17-year-old girl has died after being mauled by a shark in full view of her parents on Australia's southwest coast.

CAPE TOWN – Large shoals of Yellowtail have been spotted in False Bay over the weekend, the City of Cape Town said on Monday.

The City reminded beachgoers of the presence of great white sharks and the fact that it increases in in-shore areas over the months of summer and especially with the sightings of Yellowtail.

“Shark sightings typically start in late August, and continue through to April, with most sightings being reported mid-summer. With the school holidays around the corner and warmer days ahead, I want to urge Capetonians and visitors to please take extra care when going into the ocean. Shark spotters and the Fish Hoek exclusion net are important safety measures, but the best precaution is to be alert and aware when in the water,” the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, Brett Herron said.

As mid-summer is drawing near, the City advised beachgoers to familiarise themselves with certain safety measures.

“Use beaches where shark spotters are on duty, Take the time to speak to the shark spotters on the day you visit the beach, Use the shark spotters signs to familiarise yourself with the four-flag warning system and warning siren – the green flag indicates that spotting conditions are good; the red flag indicates that there is a high risk of in-shore shark activity; the black flag means spotting conditions are poor; and the white flag with the black shark indicates a shark has been spotted (a siren will sound and all should leave the water immediately).”

Herron also advised to not, “swim, surf or surf-ski when birds, dolphins or seals are feeding nearby; do not swim, surf or surf-ski where trek-netting, fishing or spear-fishing is taking place; [and] do not swim in deep water beyond the breakers.”

“Do not swim, surf or surf-ski where trek-netting, fishing or spear-fishing is taking place; do not swim in deep water beyond the breakers; do not swim if you are bleeding; do not swim near river mouths; do not swim, surf or surf-ski at night; [and] do not swim, surf or surf-ski if there has been a whale stranding nearby,” said Herron.

The City said obeying beach officials, shark spotters and lifeguards is very important when you are told to leave the water. 

According to Herron, these dangerous encounters rises when the water temperature is 18ºC or higher and also during the new moon. He said those visiting beaches for the first time should ask lifeguards or locals about the area.

“For those people kayaking or surf-skiing far out to the sea, please consider paddling in groups and staying close together (in a diamond formation), Consider using a personal shark shield when you go surfing or kayaking and pay attention to any shark signage on beaches, the City said.

“Surfers must be especially vigilant in the areas between Sunrise Beach and the Macassar Beach during the spring and summer months, as research has shown that shark presence in these waters is extremely common at this time of year.” 

To assist beachgoers with the latest information and safety tips this summer, the shark spotters information centre at Muizenberg Surfers Corner will be open from 8 am to 6 pm seven days a week

“The centre provides up-to-date information on sharks and marine ecology, basic first-aid, general public assistance and help with emergencies, and storage of valuables and lost property. The exclusion net will not be deployed if weather conditions – wind and swell – are deemed unsuitable. Conditions are assessed on a daily basis. If weather conditions deteriorate after the net has been deployed already, the net may be removed as a precautionary measure. The net is not deployed when there is a high presence of whales or other marine mammals in the area,” said the City.

The operating hours on the days the exclusion net will be deployed will be from 9 am to 5 pm and this may be extended to allow events or lifesaving training.

“Residents and visitors are urged to download the Shark Spotters mobile app to access the latest shark safety information, including what flag is flying at each beach, the latest shark sightings, net deployments, and much more. The app is available free of charge for Apple and Android devices and can be downloaded by searching for ‘Shark Spotters’ on the app store,” the City said.

Beachgoers will be notified via Twitter, Facebook, and the Shark Spotter mobile app when the net is being deployed.

“We encourage the public to report sightings of white sharks to the Shark Spotters. White sharks are present in our waters all year round and beachgoers should be aware that there is always a small possibility of encountering one of these animals. Please remain vigilant while enjoying the ocean,” said Herron.