Shark spotting season is on its way!
A SHARK spotting programme will be put in place at the Strand beachfront by the middle of October.
Not that Strand Beach is regarded as unsafe, only one known attack has been reported here in the past 100 years and that was in the 1920's. But the monitoring of sharks is part of a citywide programme to raise public awareness following shark attacks elsewhere along the Peninsula coastline in recent months and an expected seasonal increase in white shark inshore activity in coming weeks.
Shark spotters have in the past week had regular sightings of sharks at Muizenberg, St James and Fish Hoek.
The sightings correspond with data gleaned from five of 34 sea floor acoustic receivers retrieved a week ago by experienced commercial divers at Muizenberg and at Partridge Point. More sea floor acoustic receivers were also retrieved at Cape Hangklip, Pringle Bay and Gordon's Bay on September 28. These receivers form part of the collaborative False Bay White Shark Ecology Project, funded by the Save Our Seas Foundation and Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
The receivers record the presence of acoustically tagged great white sharks and store information such as which sharks were recorded in the area, when they arrived and departed and how long they stayed for. To date 64 great whites have been tagged with acoustic transmitters, 18 were tagged earlier this year.
In addition to the acoustic monitoring, information is collected on environmental conditions and prey availability (fish, sharks and rays occurring inshore that are important prey for white sharks) to try and determine the reasons for sharks changing their habitat use from predominantly using the seal colony in the winter to predominantly using the coastal inshore areas during the summer.
The Shark Working Group has asked the public using the coast for recreation to be extra vigilant, particularly over the next few months, to use areas where shark spotters are on duty and to familiarise themselves with warning systems.
Currently shark spotting programmes are operational at Muizenberg corner, St James beach and Fish Hoek - seven days a week from 08:00 to 18:00 - and at Monwabisi Beach, Mnandi Beach and Blue Waters Beach - 10:00 to 18:00 on all weekends, school holidays and public holidays. These operational times are the same as the lifesaving operational times.
Shark spotting programmes are not yet operational at the Strand beachfront, Kommetjie, Long Beach and The Hoek, Noordhoek, but will be in place by the middle of October.