Shark Tale

PREDATORS IN THE DEEP: Managing sharks along the South African coastline is a constant exercise

ACCORDING to Sarah Waries, CEO of Shark Spotters, a non-profit safety and research organisation based in Cape Town, False Bay has the second largest aggregation of white sharks in the world, and the largest on the doorstep of a major city. Pioneers in shark safety, the dedicated team has proven instrumental in reducing the spatial overlap between people and sharks in Cape Town for the last 14 years.

“It is important to remember that as apex predators, sharks play a vital role in our ecosystem, regulating populations in the lower trophic levels of the food chain. They are also a key ocean health indicator and improve ocean diversity by feeding on sick or weak organisms, but protecting dangerous predators has its challenges,” said Waries.

“Conserving large, predatory sharks, which are sometimes in conflict with people, is a major conservation challenge because fear can stop people from supporting their conservation. In order to maintain the balance between great white shark conservation and public safety it is imperative that we have a strong scientific foundation on white shark ecology, coupled with non-lethal mitigation methods and supported by a comprehensive education and awareness strategy,” said Waries

Since 2004, Shark Spotters has recorded over 2 163 shark sightings on our shores and with the average visitor spending approximately 17 minutes in eyeshot, the team have been on the lookout for sharks for over 200 000 hours. Muizenberg appears to be the most popular destination with 983 recorded sightings. To put these figures into context, an average of 35 people are present per sighting and 83% of the sharks are described to be in the medium to large range.

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