At African Shark Eco-Charters we love to spot sharks from our boat in False Bay. We really get up close and personal with the beautiful Great White Sharks and other sharks of the bay. It is a magical and rewarding experience.
As summer comes to False Bay however the Great White Sharks move away from Seal Island and closer inshore. They are following the fish that are drawn to the bay by the warmer conditions. It is also the time of year when the beaches are full of people enjoying the clean fresh waters of False Bay. This can lead to the unfortunate event of a Great White mistaking a Swimmer or Surfer for a seal or fish, and tragedy can strike.
The Shark Spotters program
There is a plan in place to try to stop Shark Attacks on people along our shores. It is called the Shark Spotters program. Coming up to its 10th birthday, Shark Spotters were founded in 2004 by Cape Town surfer Greg Bertish, with Rasta Davids, Monwabisi Sikiya and Surf Shack owners Dave and Fiona Chudleighwas. This is a unique program aimed at finding a middle ground between Great White Shark Conservancy and the concerns of the public. The Shark Spotting program currently employs 15-20 Shark Spotters along the False Bay coast. These Shark Spotters sit at high points along the coast during daylight hours, every day of the week. Warnings are given when Sharks enter the swimming zones around the beaches, with sirens and flags being raised to warn of any potential threat.
Almost every kid who lives along False Bay is educated from a early age as to what the Shark Flags represent. It is this kind of education that is going to save the Sharks and the beach going public in the future.
There are of course limitations to the program. The Shark Spotters have difficulty spotting sharks in poor water visibility, and there is also human error including swimmers ignoring warning sirens and flags. However, this system has proven to be an efficient shark warning and safety system at the busy beaches of False Bay.
The Shark Spotters have a fascinating Face Book page where they update fans of where the sharks have been spotted most recently. According to their Facebook updates, during the Whale Carcass scare of the past week, there were a total of 16 Sharks spotted in the region of the Whale Carcass. That’s about one every 1-40 min. This kind of information is invaluable in keeping people safe.
The job creation and skills development of this program and the environmental education and awareness to the public make this program a huge advantage to the area. Also, the collection of data contributes to the knowledge of Great White Sharks along the coast.