After a spate of shark bites in 2004 and an increase in shark sightings close to popular beaches, shark spotting developed out of a need driven at the local and community level.
Initially shark spotting was done on an ad hoc basis in Muizenberg, started by local big wave surfer Greg Bertish and Dave & Fiona Chudleigh of Surf Shack, who asked individuals working as lifeguards and car guards at the time to keep watch from the mountain overlooking the beach and warn them of any sharks visible in the area.
At the same time a similar informal system was operational in Fish Hoek with the trek net fishermen and lifesaving club. Soon local businesses, including Surf Shack, Puma, William Simpson, True Blue Travel and Reef Wetsuits got on board with donations to support the program. In 2005, Greg Bertish and Alan Wellburn formalised the operation and registered Sharkspotters as a Public Benefit Organisation, employed permanent staff and installed the first shark siren and flag system. Both have remained involved and are on the steering committee to date.
After 18 months, with the programme’s huge local and international success, the City of Cape Town provided funding and helped formalise the program as well as begin its expansion to additional beaches.
In 2009 Save Our Seas Foundation began co-funding the program, allowing for further growth and development and the incorporation of ground breaking white shark research.