Fish Hoek Offers Safe Swimming

Fish Hoek beach is the only beach in Cape Town with a special exclusion net, introduced in 2013, to keep sharks out of the swimming area. Sarah Waries, programme manager for Shark Spotters — a world-first programme that works to protect both sharks and water-users explains how this net works and why it’s important.

fishhoekFish Hoek is the only beach in Cape Town with a shark net because it has had a number of shark bite incidents. Since 2004 there have been two fatalities and one very serious bite when a man lost his leg (in 2011). There have also been a number of close calls, where surfskis were bitten and people had encounters with sharks.

In October 2011 there were 55 shark sightings at Fish Hoek in one month…It’s the best swimming beach in Cape Town, I would say, but it had this stigma as being “the shark beach”.

Traditional shark nets are designed to catch and kill sharks. Exclusion nets, like the one used in Fish Hoek, just prevent sharks from entering an area. The City of Cape Town’s approach to shark attack prevention is that you must protect people but you must also protect sharks and the environment, and one mustn’t be at the cost of the other. At Fish Hoek we get humpback whales and southern right whales in the middle of the bay, so we didn’t want to put anything in the water that would potentially entangle whales, dolphins, or anything else.

The exclusion net is deployed at Fish Hoek in the summer time, from the October school holidays through to Easter (March/April). In October we just do school holidays and weekends. From November to March we try and put it up every day, but it’s weather dependent — when the wind is too strong or the swell is too big we don’t deploy the net. We aim to have it up for about 20 days per month.

Source: Cape Town Community

New Shark Trial to be Tested at Glencairn

Glencairn beach
A line marks the spot where the new electronic shark repellent cable will be placed off Glencairn beach next week. The device is being tested this summer.

Glencairn Beach will soon play host to a new shark trial.

This follows a statement by the City of Cape Town about the installation of an electronic shark repellent by the KwaZulu Natal Sharks Board (KZNSB).

The project is funded by the KwaZulu Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DEDTEA).

The Institute for Maritime Technology (IMT), a division of Armscor SOC Ltd, in Simon’s Town was contracted to design and build a demonstrator cable.

Gregg Oelofse, City of Cape Town manager for Environmental Corporate Governance, says the installation will commence in October and the switch-on planned for November.

According to a report from the board the experiment consists of a main cable fixed to the sea floor with vertical “risers”.

These are fitted with electrodes fitted on either side of the cable.

“The risers are semi-rigid and are kept upright by small sub-surface buoys. The cable emits a low frequency pulsed electronic signal, which has been shown to repel white sharks,” the report says.

Oelofse says the cable is fixed permanently for the trial period which is set to be completed between March and April next year.

The trial period was selected to coincide with the end of the whale season to minimise the risk of whale encounters and at the peak white shark season to maximise the number of possible white shark encounters.

Monitoring will be done with the use of a video camera which will be placed above the beach and the Shark Spotters who will track the movements of any sharks sighted near the cable, the report states.

Footage will be analysed by KZNSB scientists who will determine how the signal emitted by the cable affects white sharks.

During the trial period the beach is safe for use as the cable will be installed beyond the surf break away from most beach swimmers on the eastern side, the report explains.

It also states that Fish Hoek Beach was initially considered as the ideal location for the experiment but due to trek net activities, Glencairn Beach was chosen as the alternative.

Oelofse says at this stage the trial offers no shark safety and a beach that was easy to install and monitor was chosen.

Muizenberg has much higher wave action and is not ideal for a trial,” he adds.

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