Shark Awareness & Safety Tips

Shark Spotter's Flag Warning System used to raise public shark awareness

With Spring under way and the end of our Great White Shark cage diving season in False Bay approaching, African Shark Eco-Charters would like to raise the shark awareness for all beach and ocean users of the seasonal increase of Great White Sharks in the in-shore area during the summer months.


Great White Sharks are present off the coast of South Africa all year round but there is a distinct seasonal pattern to the presence and absence of Great White Sharks, which is mainly dictated by what they are feeding on at the time. This seasonal movement behaviour is not unique to False Bay, and  has also been recorded in Gansbaai, Mossel Bay and even California.


There have already been 3 sightings of Great White Sharks in-shore in the past week, resulting in Muizenberg and St James beaches being closed for a short period of time while the Shark Spotters safely vacated the people from the water. Beach-goers are encouraged to exercise caution when entering the ocean, and to obey the Shark Spotter’s Flag Warning System. Everyone entering the ocean should do so at their own risk, knowing that they are entering a wild environment in which sharks naturally live. We are entering their territory; they are not coming into ours.


Shark Spotters is a pioneering shark safety programme and is the primary shark safety programme used in Cape Town today. Their main aim is to find a solution to potential conflicts between sharks and people, while raising public shark awareness of the Great White Sharks in False Bay. Even though it a very effective warning system, it cannot be 100% effective due to human error, weather and sea conditions.


Shark Spotter Flags – What do they mean?

  • A Green Flag means that visibility for the shark spotters is good and that no Great White Sharks have been seen.
  • A Black Flag means that visibility for the shark spotters is poor, but no Great White Sharks have been seen.
  • A Red Flag means that a Great White Shark has been seen recently, but is no longer visible to the shark spotters.
  • A White Flag with a Black Shark, along with a loud siren, means that a Great White Shark has been sighted and you should leave the water calmly, but immediately.
  • No Flag means that there are no shark spotters on duty.


Safety Tips When Entering The Ocean.

There are also certain safety tips that ocean-users can practice in order to avoid risk of an attack, including the following:

  • Do not swim, surf or surf ski 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 surf ski at night.
  • Do not swim, surf or surf ski near where trek-netting, fishing or spear fishing is taking place.
  • Do not dive for rock lobster using live bait.
  • If a shark has recently been sighted in an area where no mountain  watchers are present, consider using another beach for the day.
  • Obey beach officials if told to leave the water.
  • Consider kayaking or surf skiing in a group when going far out to sea.
  • Pay attention to shark signage on beaches.


Pass this message on to fellow beach-goers so that we can help to raise the public shark awareness during the summer months.


Shark Spotter's Flag Warning System used to raise public shark awareness
Shark Spotter’s Flag Warning System used to raise public shark awareness




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