City of Cape Town to intensify beach safety programmes

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The City of Cape Town says it will intensify beach safety programmes as great White Shark activity is expected to spike off False Bay over the festive season.

Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Development, Felicity Purchase, says shark exclusion nets at Fish Hoek Beach will be used in conjunction with the shark spotter programmes.

With holidaymakers expected to flock to the city’s shoreline, authorities say they’re satisfied with the efforts to create safe spaces. They’ve reported a decrease in shark activity along the False Bay Coast so far this season. At this time of year, however, shark activity generally increases as Great Whites move into warmer waters. City of Cape Town’s Felicity Purchase says they remain vigilant.

“Between October and April we do have a high shark activity and we’ve managed to create the safe space for the people, but we don’t have that luxury on a lot of other beaches, but we do have a shark spotter programme on eight of our beaches where there’s a lot of swimming and some shark activity.”

Beachgoers say the shark nets offer them peace of mind.

“It makes you more relaxed knowing that there won’t be anything swimming around you.” Before the shark nets we would take a bit of a chance but with the shark net the little ones can completely safe.”

Shark spotters will also be deployed to among others Muizenberg, St James, Kalk Bay and Monwabisi beaches. The programme consists of a system of coloured flags which indicate the level of risk and shark activity in nearby waters.

Field Manager for Shark Spotters, Monwabisi Skweyiya says a white warning flag is raised when a shark is sighted close to people and a siren raised.

“It’s been very slow compared to the previous season and i’m sure that means that’s good for everyone, there’s been two sightings an hour ago in Muizenberg, but we’re just keeping our cool and doing what we have to do.”

Authorities attribute the low rate of shark related incidents on the Cape beaches to the success of the shark spotter programme together with the exclusionary shark nets.