Thu, 5 August 2010

The City of Cape Town and the Shark Spotters Programme have designed signs to improve shark safety on Cape Town’s beaches. These signs seek to increase awareness about the presence of sharks (Great White sharks in particular), and to guide beach users about the workings of Shark Spotting Programme.

“Significant improvements have been made to the shark warning system used by the shark spotters, and the City urges the public to familiarise themselves with this system,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services, Councillor Brett Herron.

The new signage can be found on beaches monitored by shark spotters, where the flag warning system is utilised, namely: Noordhoek Corner (the ‘Hoek’), Glencairn, Fish Hoek, Clovelly, St. James, Kalk Bay and Muizenberg. The signage is designed to be highly visible and has been strategically placed to ensure that it is accessible to all beach users.

The following changes have been made to the shark warning system:

  • All flags now have a shark printed on them. This is to ensure that beach users are able to differentiate between the shark spotting flags and other, unrelated flags
  • Signs indicating a ‘high risk’ have been placed on Jaggers Walk at Fish Hoek Beach – a site where the most recent shark attacks have occured. However, beach users are reminded to always be vigilant and exercise caution when they swim at any beach.
  • The modified shark spotting information sign explains the meaning of the colour-coded shark warning flags; shows information on shark spotter duty shifts; provides general visibility conditions; indicates the date of the last shark sighting and lists emergency services contact details.
  • A new ‘Shark Smart’ sign conveys general information on sharks in Cape Town waters as well as advice on using the ocean. These will be erected in the near future.
  • The Red Flag now indicates a general shark alert, and is raised when a shark has been observed in the area in the past two hours, when an increased presence of sharks has been observed, or when conditions conducive to increased shark activity exist e.g. high fish activity or whale strandings. This flag will be lowered only when the alert is no longer necessary and will be flown in conjunction with one of the other spotting flags

 The City appeals to the public to please locate and familiarise themselves with the new signs on the beach and the Shark Spotting Programme. Beach-based shark spotters are also available to answer any questions related to shark safety, and informational brochures can be obtained from them or the Save Our Seas Shark Centre in Kalk Bay. For recent shark activity and more information please visit www.sharkspotters.org.za

 The public should continue to apply caution at the beach. Swimmers must immediately leave the water when warnings are sounded and not return to it until the shark spotters have given the all-clear.

 In addition, the public are encouraged to:

  • Swim in groups
  • Ensure that they are visible to others when swimming
  • Ensure that they do not swim when there are marine mammals (whales, dolphins, seals) in the area
  • Ensure that they do not swim if a marine mammal or carcass has washed up onto the beach
  • Ensure they do not swim if there is a stranded marine mammal in the area

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