Tue, 23 June 2020

The NSRI urgently appeals caution in the Southern and Eastern Cape after a surge in shark activity, topped by a drone clip by a 14-year-old boy of a large white shark among surfers.

The urgent call came this evening from Craig Lambinon, spokesperson for the NSRI, for care to be taken around Plettenberg Bay and between Mossel Bay and Jeffreys Bay, due to a high number of reported white shark sightings and close encounters. Drone footage of a large animal in close proximity to surfers in Plettenberg Bay today highlights the urgency of this safety appeal.

“We normally fly the drone to capture nature and I was monitoring the shark to see how close it got to the surfers and when I saw it was heading towards them informed my dad to get them out the water,” Zachary Berman, 14, told media.

“He was on his way to get them out and by then the shark was moving quite fast. When the shark goes underneath the boards Sea Rescue hadn’t arrived yet. It was really scary standing there with the remote control watching this shark head towards the surfers. You don’t really know what to do in that situation.”

When the surfers and the kayaker got back to the shore, Zachary showed them the footage from his drone.

The increase of sharks at this time of the year is part of the normal aggregation of these animals that take advantage of natural prey like seals and fish close in shore. A large amount of shark sightings and some A large amount of shark sightings and some encounters have been reported close in shoreencounters have been reported close in shore along the Plettenberg Bay coastline over the past few weeks, on Sunday and today. Sarah Waries of City of Cape Town (CoCT) Shark Spotters programme told the NSRI "The behaviour seen in this drone footage shows that the shark is aware of the surfers and is investigating the surfers. It is important for people to remember that White sharks are naturally inquisitive Apex predators and that although shark bites are rare, water users must understand the inherent risk associated with sharing the ocean with these animals and change their behaviour accordingly to avoid encountering sharks."

NSRI can confirm that a number of encounters reported recently included authorities appealing to surfers to exit the water at Robberg, Plettenberg Bay on Sunday, at Boneyards, Jeffreys Bay on Monday and again at Robberg, Plettenberg Bay on Tuesday, following shark sightings in close proximity to surfers reported by eye-witnesses.

NSRI and the Emergency Services are well prepared to deal with any incidents and NSRI carry emergency medical shark kits on our sea rescue craft, on NSRI rescue vehicles and our NSRI medics carry emergency medical shark kits in their private vehicles in an effort to ensure the quickest response to any incident.

The CoCT Shark Spotters Programme advise, that to reduce the risk of encountering a shark the public are urged to familiarise themselves with the following safety advice:

  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski when birds, dolphins or seals are feeding nearby
  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski where fishing or spear fishing is taking place
  • Do not swim in deep water beyond the breakers
  • Do not swim if you are bleeding
  • Do not swim near river mouths
  • Do not swim, surf or surfski alone
  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski at night
  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski if there has been a whale stranding nearby
  • Obey beach officials and lifeguards if told to leave the water

If a shark has recently been sighted in an area, consider using another beach for the day. First-time visitors to beach areas should ask the local law enforcement official, lifeguards or locals about the area. For those people kayaking or surf-skiing far out to the sea: please consider paddling in groups and staying close together (in a diamond formation). Consider using a personal shark shield when you go surfing or kayaking

Pay attention to any shark signage on beaches

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