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Beachgoers urged to watch out for sharks

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Beachgoers must be on the lookout for sharks during the summer season, the City of Cape Town warned on Monday.

“The Fish Hoek shark exclusion net is being deployed and retrieved daily and shark spotters are monitoring identified beaches to ensure the safety of all visitors to in-shore areas,” the city said in a statement.

“Since September, there have been 57 shark sightings at beaches monitored by the shark spotters.”

A total of 36 sightings had been at Muizenberg corner, seven at Fish Hoek, five at Monwabisi, three at St James, two at Caves (Kogel Bay), two at Glencairn, one at Noordhoek, and one at Clovelly.

With the presence of great white sharks at in-shore areas expected to increase over the summer season, the city was ensuring the necessary precautionary measures were taking place.

From November 2014 to March 2015, the Fish Hoek exclusion net would operate on a daily basis, depending on the weather.

Weekends, public holidays and school holidays would be prioritised.

Beyond adverse weather conditions, the net would not be deployed if there was a high presence of whales or other marine mammals in the area, and when trek-netting was taking place.

“If a whale moves into the area while the net is deployed, the shark spotters herd the animal away from the net and out of the area, using the exclusion net boat,” the city said.

On days that the exclusion net was deployed, the operating hours would be from 9am to 5pm, and may occasionally be extended to allow for lifesaving training or events.

Shark spotters would keep beach users informed using social media.

The city provided the following shark safety tips:

— Use beaches where shark spotters are on duty;

— Use the shark spotters signs to familiarise yourself with the four-flag warning system and warning siren;

— Do not swim, surf or surf-ski when birds, dolphins or seals are feeding nearby;

— Do not swim, surf or surf-ski where trek-netting, fishing or spear fishing is taking place;

— Do not swim in deep water beyond the breakers;

— Do not swim if you are bleeding, or near river mouths;

— Do not swim, surf or surf-ski at night, and if there has been a whale stranding nearby;

— Obey beach officials, lifeguards and shark spotters if they tell you to leave the water;

— Be aware the rate of encounters with white sharks rises significantly when the water temperature is warmer, being 18 degrees or higher, and during the new moon;

— If a shark has recently been sighted in an area where no shark spotters are present, consider using another beach for the day;

— Those kayaking or surf-skiing far out to the sea, consider paddling in groups, and staying close together in a diamond formation;

— Consider using a personal shark shield when you go surfing or kayaking; and

— Pay attention to any shark signage on beaches.

Kayakers and surf-skiers were specifically asked to be cautious of the area between Sunnycove and Glencairn Beach, and swimmers were urged not to use the water off Jaegers Walk in Fish Hoek unless the exclusion net was deployed, as this was considered a high-risk area.

Surfers were asked to be especially vigilant in the areas between Sunrise Beach and Macassar Beach during the spring and summer months.

“Furthermore, surfers should be aware that sightings of great white sharks at Noordhoek beach are common on the days following a north-west wind,” the city said. SAPA


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