Beachgoers urged to keep safe amid shark scare and rough seas

24 December 2019 - 20:00 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
Beachgoers have been urged to swim only at lifeguard-protected beaches this festive season.
Beachgoers have been urged to swim only at lifeguard-protected beaches this festive season.
Image: JACKIE Clausen

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) is appealing to beachgoers to only swim at beaches protected by lifeguards.

"NSRI are appealing to parents and caregivers to ensure that while their children are swimming they have responsible adult supervisors that are not distracted and are dedicated to supervising the children while they are in the water," said spokesperson Geoff McGregor.

In the Eastern Cape, McGregor said a shark warning remained in place at Oyster Bay, between Tsitsikamma and St Francis Bay, where a whale carcass washed up on the rocks at the hamlet's main beach on Thursday.

"Plettenberg Bay lifeguards assisted by NSRI Plettenberg Bay cleared bathers from the water at beaches in the Plettenberg Bay area after a three-metre great white shark was spotted approaching a bathing area on Tuesday morning.

"Beaches were reopened following an all-clear notice and lifeguards remain vigilant."

According to the NSRI, the SA Weather Service (Saws) has issued a warning for wind and waves on December 26 in coastal areas between Cape Columbine and Plettenberg Bay.

"Pre-frontal conditions are expected to cause windy conditions along the coastline of the Western Cape, with a period of strong to gale force (56-75km/h) northwesterly to westerly winds expected," said McGregor. 

"The wave heights will also start increasing, reaching 4.5m to 5.5m, alongside with spring tide that is expected on Wednesday/Thursday, which will result in high tides being higher than normal and low tides being lower than normal.

"This is a crucial period, especially on the Day of Goodwill (December 26) as people will be visiting coastal regions and engaging in marine activities.

"NSRI are appealing to bathers, paddlers and boaters to heed the SA Weather Service alert and be cautious - particularly in light of the peak of the new moon spring tide, peaking December 26, that will affect the coastline [from Tuesday] and gradually begin to dissipate ... returning to normal tides by around New Year's Day."