Ocean News

Research Information Contributes To Conservation And Public Safety

21st August 2008

The white shark research project is a multi-faceted programme that aims to better understand the role of these sharks in ecosystems and make sure that relevant ecological information is collected to ensure management and conservation measures are up-to-date and adequate. The project also strives to build a better relationship between coastal communities and their toothy neighbours through the dissemination of this scientific information. Shark bites have a negative effect on both people and sharks and if we can reduce the already small risk of a shark bite through using the research data, then we can make a meaningful contribution to white shark conservation, contribute to the local communities well-being and set a precedent in how people and sharks can co-exist. Photo courtesy Morne’ Hardenberg

Press Release – Research Update – Issued by: City of Cape Town Seasonal increase in white shark inshore presence expected in the next few weeks

People are reminded that white sharks are present in our waters all year round and that they should be aware of the small possibility of encountering one of these animals at anytime and should always remain vigilant when using the ocean.  However the City of Cape Town would once again like to remind all beach and ocean users that we are again approaching the time of year when we expect to see a seasonal increase in the presence of white sharks in the in-shore area. Scientific evidence suggests that sharks change their habitat use from predominantly using the seal colony in the winter to predominantly using the coastal inshore areas during the summer.  In addition over the last five years, the period of mid August to end November has recorded the highest numbers of interactions between white sharks and recreational users and as such we would like to request that people using the ocean are particularly vigilant over this period.

This seasonal change is not unique to False Bay or recent in its occurrence: similar behaviour is recorded in Gansbaai, Mossel Bay and even California. Shark Spotters recorded a shark sighting at Muizenberg Beach on Monday the 18th, just before midday, the first sighting in the area in months while a shark was also sighted by kayakers at Sunnycove on Sunday the 17th. Based on scientific data, the City would like to ask people using the coast for recreation to be extra vigilant particularly over the next few months when the highest occurrence of inshore white shark activity is expected. Kayakers and surfskiiers are specifically asked to be cautious of the area between Sunnycove and Glencairn Beach while surfers and swimmers are asked to be especially vigilant in the areas between Sunrise Beach and Strandfontein and again in the Macassar Beach area.

People are encouraged to use areas where shark spotters are on duty and to take the time to speak to the shark spotters on the day they visit the beach to find out about recent sightings and activity as well as the current conditions which determine the effectiveness for shark spotting.  People are also please requested to take the time to read the shark spotting signs to inform themselves of the four flag warning system used as well as be aware of the use of a siren to close the beach.

Currently Shark Spotting programmes are operational at the following areas:
Muizenberg corner: 7 days a week from 8am to 6pm*
St James beach: 7 days a week from 8am to 6pm*
Fish Hoek: 7 days a week from 8am to 6pm*
Noordhoek (The Hoek): 7 days a week from 8am to 6pm*
*From the beginning of October the afternoon shift will be extended to 7pm.
During the peak summer season the Shark Spotting programme will be extended to additional areas around the City’s coast.

Regular and up-to-date information is available on the Shark Spotters website: www.sharkspotters.org and for more information on the research visitstaging.saveourseas.com/white-sharks

Shark safety tips

If people exercise caution and are aware of their environment, the risk of attack can be lowered further. Here are some tips in reducing the risk of attack:

· Do not swim, surf or surfski when birds, dolphins or seals are feeding nearby.
· 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 surfski near where trek-netting, fishing or spear fishing is taking place.
· Do not swim, surf or surfski at night
· If a shark has recently been sighted in an area where no shark spotters are present, consider using another beach for the day
· First time visitors to beach areas should ask the local law enforcement official, life guards or locals about the area · Obey beach officials if told to leave the water
· For those people kayaking or surfskiing far out to the sea, consider paddling in groups and staying close together (in a diamond shape)
· Consider using a personal shark shield when you go surfing or kayaking
· Pay attention to any shark signage on beaches

Click here for more information on the Save Our Seas Shark Centre