Cape shark activity rises

30 August 2011 - 13:57 By Sapa
A Great White Shark
A Great White Shark

The City of Cape Town has warned beach and ocean users of a seasonal increase in the presence of great white sharks.

"The City of Cape Town would once again like to remind all beach and ocean users that we are approaching the time of the year when we expect to see a seasonal increase in the presence of white sharks in the in-shore area," the city said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Shark sightings recorded by the shark spotters have consistently shown a seasonal peak during the period from August to March, peaking in mid-summer.

"Typically shark sightings start in late August. However, shark spotters and water users have recorded early sightings in the last two weeks in Muizenberg, St. James and Clovelly."

The city said white shark research trips at the weekend recorded a significant drop in shark activity at Seal Island in False Bay, "indicative of the seasonal move of sharks away from the island to the in-shore areas".

"The city is therefore appealing to all beach and ocean users to be aware of these recent sightings and the expected increase in shark presence in the in-shore area over the summer months," the city said.

Analysis of the shark spotters' data from Muizenberg and Fish Hoek, the two beaches with the highest number of shark sightings, revealed that in more than 65 percent of sightings, sharks were observed swimming behind the breakers travelling in a directional pattern from one side of the beach to another, parallel to the shore.

"This suggests that in most cases sharks are simply swimming past these beaches on their way to another location and we recommend that water users in areas of high shark activity limit the amount of time they spend behind the breakers far away from shore," said Alison Kock of the Save our Seas Foundation.

Data has also shown that in the event of a whale stranding, shark sightings increase significantly at adjacent beaches, and shark sightings may persist for up to a week after the stranding.

The city said kayakers and surfskiiers should be cautious of the area between Sunnycove and Glencairn Beach.

Swimmers had been asked not to use the water off Jaegers Walk in Fish Hoek as this was considered "a high risk area".

Surfers are asked to be especially vigilant in the areas between Sunrise Beach and Strandfontein and again in the Macassar Beach area during the summer months.