Earlier this week the Shark Spotters were treated by African Shark Eco-Charters (ASEC) to their first cage dive with the white sharks of False Bay. Sitting on top of the mountains scanning our beaches for shark activity results in observations being made 100’s of meters away. This view of the sharks is as far away as you can get. So when they were presented with the opportunity to get as close as possible to these magnificent animals you can only imagine the excitement! I don’t think Rob from ASEC was quite prepared for the shouting, screaming and shrilling he would experience that day. Fun was definitely had by all! Even Wally and Sarah got into the cage and Wally got an incredible photo of a breaching shark. A huge thanks from all of us at Shark Spotters to Rob, Karen and the ASEC team!

The following is an account by Thandanani Mhanga from the Cape Argus


Originally published in Cape Argus 22 July 2009

The sea is quiet and still and it is almost hard to believe that great whites inhabit these calm waters.

On an unusually hot winter’s day in the peninsula, and even more so in Simon’s Town, a group of 10 shark spotters will get their first up-close encounter with the predator they’ve observed for so long.

Their excitement is palpable as the cage descends into the water.

At first, there are no sharks, but within minutes the boat to which the cage is attached is encircled by at least half a dozen.

After about 40 minutes, shark spotters Monwabisi Si-kweyiya and Patrick “Rasta” Davids are lifted out of the shark-diving cage.

“It was that close! Did you see it?” shouted Sikweyiya.

Davids responded: “Do you believe me now? There’s nothing to be afraid of?”

The group was invited by African Shark Eco-Charters to get a close-up view of the sharks they keep a lookout for.

“There are more dangerous two-legged sharks on land,” said Davids, a veteran of the shark spotting trade.

Davids started out as a car guard at a Muizenerg beach until a 16-year-old teenager lost a leg to a great white. His livelihood was subsequently threatened as the beach saw fewer visitors.

This led him to train as a shark spotter.

“The local trek fishermen taught me how to look for weather conditions, wind patters, visibility in the water. I was the first shark spotter in Muizenberg.”

That was seven years ago, and shark spotting has since grown to encompass this group of youngsters from all walks of life who were given the opportunity yesterday to encounter the great whites.

Rob Lawrence, owner and host of African Shark Eco-Charters, sponsored the group.

“These guys do such a good job but only get to see the sharks from the mountains,” said Lawrence.

Alison Kock, a shark re-searcher with the Save our Seas Foundation, said they were grateful to Lawrence for sponsoring the trip as the experience had lifted the shark spotters’ spirits.

“Getting to see sharks in their natural environment, up closer than they ever have before, can teach them more in a few hours than years of studying sharks from books or films,” said Kock.

Also in the shark spotter group are four women.

Ethel Thsandu said that, as a shark spotter, she had learned how to connect with nature.

“You get to learn about nature, how to become connected to nature,” she said.

The other women said the best part of their job was meeting tourists from all over the world.

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