National 29.8.2016 03:09 pm

Beachgoers warned about increased shark activity in CPT

FILE PIC: A beach in Durban. Picture: Phumlani Thabethe

FILE PIC: A beach in Durban. Picture: Phumlani Thabethe

Van der Merwe says shark sightings usually begin late in August, continuing until April.

As Cape Town’s winter gives way to warmer days, the City of Cape Town has warned people flocking to the beaches to be aware of the increase in in-shore activity by great white sharks.

“All beach and ocean users are reminded that the presence of great white sharks in in-shore areas increases at this time of the year,” said mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning Johan van der Merwe in a statement on Monday.

Van der Merwe said shark sightings usually began late in August, continuing until April, but that the most sightings were reported during the mid-summer months.

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“We are also asking surfers to be especially vigilant in the areas between Sunrise and Macassar Beach as research has shown that the presence of sharks is extremely common at this time of year,” Van der Merwe added.

He said the City, together with its partner, Shark Spotters, were hard at work to do all they could do to “enhance the safety of beachgoers and ocean users over this period”.

Van der Merwe urged members of the public to also take precautions and play their part in ensuring safety rules were followed while at the beach and in the ocean and to report any shark sightings to Shark Spotters.

Some of these safety rules, he said, included only using beaches where Shark Spotters were on duty, speaking to Shark Spotters when visiting the beach, knowing what the shark Spotters’ signs were and the four-flag warning system which was in place, and listening for the warning siren and listening to beach officials when told to leave the water.

Shark Spotters would be present at the following beaches from October 2016-April 2017: St James/Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek, Caves, Kogel Bay, Noordhoek, Clovelly, Glencairn, Monwabisi.

Van der Merwe also appealed to members of the public to not swim, surf or surf-ski when birds, dolphins and seals were seen feeding in the vicinity, to not go out in deep water beyond the breakers, not to swim if they were bleeding anywhere and to not swim or surf near river mouths or at night.

He said people who paddled at sea should stay together in groups in a diamond formation, and pay close attention to shark signage on the beaches, while paddlers and surfers should consider the use of a personal shark shield.

Van der Merwe added that in Fish Hoek, a “shark exclusion net will be in operation from October 2016 to April 2017”. The net, he said, would be deployed at sea for the annual Fish Hoek Spring Splash on September 4.

Members of the public could also follow Shark Spotters on Twitter and Facebook to find out if the net was deployed or not.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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