The National Sea Rescue Institute has warned of an increase in great white sharks along the southern Cape and Eastern Cape coastline after one came in close proximity with surfers.
NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said a large number of shark sightings and some encounters have been reported close to the shore along the Plettenberg Bay coastline over the past few weeks.
An urgent safety appeal came after drone footage from Plettenberg Bay on Tuesday showed a close encounter between surfers and great white sharks‚ Lambinon said.
Due to a high number of reported White Shark sightings and close encounters, NSRI are appealing to the public exercise caution along the Southern Cape coastline, in particular around the coastline of Plettenberg Bay and between Mossel Bay and Jeffreys Bay.https://t.co/IKbxE3tNhh pic.twitter.com/3uI02FGgSc
— Sea Rescue South Africa (@NSRI) June 23, 2020
The recent sightings and encounters were reported at Robberg in Plettenberg Bay on Sunday‚ Boneyards in Jeffreys Bay on Monday and again at Robberg on Tuesday.
“The increase of sharks at this time of the year is part of the normal aggregation of these animals that take advantage of natural prey like seals and fish close to shore‚” he said.
Sarah Waries from the City of Cape Town (CoCT) Shark Spotters programme said the drone footage showed that the shark was aware of the surfers and was investigating them.
“It is important for people to remember that white sharks are naturally inquisitive apex predators and that although shark bites are rare‚ water users must understand the inherent risk associated with sharing the ocean with these animals and change their behaviour accordingly to avoid encountering sharks‚” Waries said.
The NSRI has appealed to bathers‚ paddlers‚ bodyboarders and surfers to be cautious along the coastline.
The following safety tips have been provided:
Do not swim‚ surf or surf-ski when birds‚ dolphins or seals are feeding nearby
Do not swim‚ surf or surf-ski where fishing or spear fishing is taking place
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 alone
Do not swim‚ surf or surf-ski at night
Do not swim‚ surf or surf-ski if there has been a whale stranding nearby
Obey beach officials and lifeguards if told to leave the water
If a shark has recently been sighted in an area‚ consider using another beach for the day
First-time visitors to beach areas should ask the local law enforcement official‚ lifeguards or locals about the area
For those people kayaking or surf-skiing far out to the sea: please consider paddling in groups and staying close together (in a diamond formation)
Consider using a personal shark shield when you go surfing or kayaking
Pay attention to any shark signage on beaches
By: Iavan Pijoos
Source: ARENA Holdings.