Shark Spotters started operating at our eighth location today, Monwabisi Beach, on the northern shore of False Bay. (15 December 2012). The sharks gave us a warm welcome, with two white sharks spotted at 12.45pm and one at 2.05pm. Due to the sharks being spotted when they were far offshore (400 – 600m) and the water users only in shallow water (<50m) the beach was not cleared. The spotters tracked the movement of the sharks until they were out of sight.
Monwabisi beach is located on the northern shore of False Bay, and is particularly popular with residents from the surrounding areas of the Cape Flats including Khayalietsha and Mitchells Plain. During the festive season tens of thousands of local residents make use of the area for recreation with its braai spots, paddling pools, tidal pools and beach area.
In November Shark Spotters received an urgent request to help at Monwabisi beach following a period where high shark activity had kept the beach closed and people out of the water due to safety concerns. Following the request the Shark Spotters management team made a site visit to assess the suitability of the location for a formalised spotting program and met with beach management to discuss their needs and logistical issues.
It was agreed that spotting would be feasible from the cliff above the swimming area at the beach, which has an elevation of 21m. While this is below the normal minimum elevation required for effective spotting at other beaches (approx. 40 meters), the relatively small swimming area that needs to be monitored, and the position of the “groynes” confining the swimmers within a certain area, makes spotting from this location possible.
With regards previous knowledge of shark activity in the area, research has identified that the northern shores of False Bay from Macassar to Muizenberg have the highest inshore white shark activity in False Bay. While no tracking receivers have been deployed directly at Monwabisi beach, four receivers (two each) were deployed at Macassar Beach and Strandfontein that monitored 56 tagged white sharks. These receivers recorded the presence of tagged white sharks 33% of the time at Macassar and 76% of the time at Strandfontein (unpublished data). Shark sightings peaked over the spring and summer months (September to April) and more sharks were detected on the receivers deployed in deeper water. Monwabisi is positioned between these two areas and it’s therefore likely that the patterns observed at Macassar and Strandfontein would be similar for Monwabisi.
Spotters will operate at Monwabisi on a seasonal basis, from October until April, working weekends, public holidays and school holidays. The operating hours will be 10am to 6pm until the 21 December and 8am to 6pm thereafter. The spotters will work in conjunction with the Surf Lifesaving Club on the beach as well.
At present we are still seeking additional funding to cover the operating costs of spotting at Monwabisi (approx R150,000 per year) as it is not accounted for in our current operating budget. We would like to express our gratitude to BulkSMS who has already come on board and given a substantial donation towards operating at Monwabisi. If you are interested in donating to the program, please see our banking details below or SMS the word SHARK to 38021 (R10/sms).
All of us here at Shark Spotters are very excited to be operating at Monwabisi and for the further expansion of the program. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the communities we work within for their support and to all those who have contributed to the program in the past.