Shark spotters in South Africa help keep surfers safe

World Today

Shark spotters in South Africa keep surfers safe

South Africa’s False Bay coastline is a popular spot for surfers and swimmers. A recent shark attack has drawn attention to the dangers of the ocean, although it’s also shining a spotlight on an innovative program to help keep everyone safe. CCTV America’s Travers Andrews reports from Cape Town.

Shark spotters in South Africa keep surfers safe

South Africa's False Bay coastline is a popular spot for surfers and swimmers. A recent shark attack has drawn attention to the dangers of the ocean, although it's also shining a spotlight on an innovative program to keep everyone safe. CCTV America's Travers Andrews reports from Cape Town.

Follow Travers Andrews on Twitter @traversandrews

Surfers Corner in Cape Town is one of the most popular surfing spots in the city, attracting experience levels of all kinds. However, beach users there have to share the coastline with another ominous resident, one known for its sometimes fierce reputation: great white sharks.

Great whites are plentiful in False Bay, and potential encounters can be so dangerous that beach users have to be watched over by a dedicated team of shark spotters who keep a close eye over them.

“We have guys positioned on the mountains and they have polarizing sunglasses and binoculars. They look for the sharks and when they see the sharks, they radio to their spotter on the beach who’ll call everybody out of the water. So we reducing shark risk by removing people from the water when sharks are in the area.” – Sarah Waries, Project Manager of Shark Spotters

Equipped with the knowledge of shark behavior, a pair monitor for any activity deemed unsafe. However, shark spotting is not an exact science. It was just a month ago that a surfer was lucky to survive after an attack by a great white.

The attack was largely a result of bad spotting conditions and the distance the surfer was to the spotters, but it’s an ordeal that has nonetheless shaken some up. However, incidents like this are isolated, and they draw the spotlight on just how important the program is for saving lives and continuing to keep beach users safe.

With the change in seasons comes the change in the feeding habits of the sharks, and more of them will begin to make their way closer to shore to feed. This can spell trouble for beach users, but the team of trained eyes will carefully monitor these waters.