After Shark Spotters was officially invited to partner by the Bitou Municipality, a group of our Cape Town Shark Spotters went to Plettenberg Bay to conduct site inspections to assess the feasibility of shark spotting and the deployment of an exclusion barrier net.
During the week of the 31st of October 2022, Shark Spotters CEO Sarah Waries, Field Manager Tino Simmerie, shark spotters Dennis Chikodze and Nevron Lesch, and Shark Spotters committee member and designer of the shark exclusion barrier net in Fish Hoek Howard Gold, made their way to Plettenberg. Our team conducted site assessments at eight beaches and concluded that five of the beaches showed good potential for shark spotting. While the assessment was limited by the lack of water users at that time, the five beaches looked suitable as they had sufficient elevation in close proximity to the water and were regularly used by the public for swimming, surfing and other water-based activities. The best way forward and an aim for Plett Shark Spotters is to implement shark spotting on these five beaches over the next six months on a trial basis. Further, the aim is to work with the Bitou Municipality, Plett NSRI and the Bitou Lifeguards to identify any additional shark safety measures for beaches where shark spotting is not possible.
To assist in measuring and quantifying the distance for shark spotting under different conditions, our team took our “decoy shark” named “Covid” to Plettenberg Bay. Covid is a “fake shark” made from polycarbonate that we have used in Cape Town as part of our project investigating an automated shark spotting system. Our team was fortunate to receive the generous assistance of Ocean Outfitters on the last day who took our team out on their boat and assisted with bathymetry (depth) measurements, and towed Covid the shark in the proposed spotting areas. Unfortunately heavy cloud cover limited the information our team could deduce from Covid however the exercise was still useful. A goal of for the Plett Shark Spotters is to train the spotters to collect data on the spatial distribution of water users and the spotting conditions for further analysis to determine the effectiveness of spotting in the area.
Our team also assessed the likelihood of including an exclusion barrier net similar to the one we deploy in Fish Hoek and engaged with local marine and safety experts to look at its suitability at Central Beach. We do believe that an exclusion net has the potential to be deployed under certain conditions at Central Beach and so will continue discussing with the municipality about implementing this in early 2023.
We are grateful for all the people who assisted our team during this week which includes Bitou Municipality, NSRI Plett, Bitou Lifeguard, Plett Life Savers, Ocean Outfitters. We would also like to extend our gratitude and thanks to the Plett Shark Action Group, Robberg Fine Foods, Learn to Surf Plett, The Surf Café Plett, Plett Tourism Association, The Table Restaurant, CapeNature, Nature’s Valley Trust and Wild Oceans Africa for their continuous passion and dedication towards the sustainable coexistence of people and sharks.
We hope to have spotters on duty in Plett on the 1st of December, provided we raise enough funds for the initiative. If you would like to help get spotters in operation before the festive season, please send your donations to Shark Spotters to the following bank details:
Bank Name: Standard Bank
Account name: Plett Shark Spotters
Account number: 1 0 1 8 4 6 8 7 8 9 4
Branch code: 051001
Account type: Current/Cheque
Please email proof of payment to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a donation receipt and a B-BBEE certificate. For any information, please contact: email@example.com or call Sarah on 078 174 4244