Plettenberg Bay has experienced increased white shark activity in recent years and tragically suffered two fatal shark bite incidents within three months of each other in 2022.
Following these incidents, the Plett Shark Action Group invited Shark Spotters, an established shark safety organisation operating in Cape Town since 2004, to partner with them to implement effective shark safety activities at strategic beaches in the area.
Plett Shark Spotters was therefore established in November 2022, with trained spotters operational at five of Plett’s busiest beaches in time for the busy festive season. Operations have continued in the area ever since, creating 14 full time employment and skills development opportunities for locals from under-resourced communities.
Working closely with the Bitou Municipality Beach Control, Lifesavers and NSRI station, Plett Shark Spotters makes a positive contribution to beach safety in Plett, and has proved to be effective at reducing shark-human conflict and restoring confidence in the use of local beaches.
ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE
During our first year of operations, Plett Shark Spotters has played an essential role in protecting beach-goers, tourism, and the local economy of Plettenberg Bay from the negative repercussions of shark bites. We have also conducted impactful environmental education interventions and have created partnerships to enhance applied marine research in Plett.
ACTIVITIES - 2024 AND BEYOND
Plett Shark Spotters' primary objective is to reduce the risk of shark interactions at strategic beaches in Plett through the implementation of an effective early warning system that alerts water users to the presence of potentially dangerous shark species close to shore.
In addition, as part of the larger Shark Spotters organisation, we are able to add considerable additional value to Plett through education, research and conservation activities, as well as enhanced job creation and skills development opportunities for Bitou locals. Going forwards we will increase our activities and impact, providing even more significant benefits to the people, environment and economy of the area.
- Shark Spotting services at The Wreck, Robberg 1, Central Beach, The Wedge, and Lookout Beach, with additional safety measures investigated and implemented at Robberg 5 where possible.
- Employment and skills development opportunities for a minimum of 14 Bitou locals from under-resourced communities, with the likelihood of increasing to >20 depending on beaches covered and other activities.
- Expert input on shark bite mitigation and response as well as the investigation of emerging technologies.
- Representation of Plett at national and global shark safety forums.
- Provision of interactive and engaging educational activities to change people's perceptions of sharks and improve understanding of marine conservation issues and their importance.
- Implementation of a schools programme with structured CAPS aligned lessons to reach all primary and high schools in Plett with beach safety and marine conservation interventions.
- Free Interactive public beach awareness days during holidays & peak season to educate beachgoers directly.
- Hosting of three Youth Environmental Service interns to conduct education activities.
- Data collection and analysis of shark sightings to determine environmental, seasonal and spatial factors influencing shark risk.
- Provision of data on other marine megafauna sightings to existing local researchers.
- Implement a long-term fish biodiversity monitoring programme for Plett with partners at Cape Nature, Orca Foundation, & Rockhopper Fund.
- Collaboration with local shark and ray researchers to expand the research footprint in Plett inc acoustic tagging of bronze whaler sharks and other species.
- Skills development and capacity building for local young marine science students and enthusiasts.
- Supporting Plett's approach of sustainable shark safety mitigation instead of lethal control, thereby protecting both sharks and people in the area.
- Partner with and support existing local conservation organisations to increase their conservation impact in the area.
- Motivate for behaviour change and increase local participation in marine conservation through social media campaigns and improved awareness and appreciation for Plett's greatest asset, its ocean.
- Provision of data and scientific support for the formation of conservation management plans for Plett.
Due to the quick turnaround time to be operational before the 2022/2023 summer season, the Bitou Municipality was not able to provide any initial funding for the start-up and operational costs of the programme. Plett Shark Spotters therefore relied entirely on public and corporate donations for the first six months, including an initial grant from Sanlam Ltd to cover expenses during the festive season, and regular monthly contributions from the Lubner Foundation, Robberg Beach End Estate, Whale Rock Estate and a few dedicated individuals. Contributions towards some costs were made from the municipality in April, July and August through the Mayor’s grant in aid programme.
Due to the programme's success, the local Bitou Municipality is finalising a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Shark Spotters to continue providing effective shark safety services in Plett. This MOU will include a contribution towards the operating expenses of Plett Shark Spotters (salaries, equipment etc), but unfortunately due to municipal budgetary constraints, they will not be able to cover the full costs. Plett Shark Spotters is therefore still reliant on grants and donations from local and international corporates, trusts and individual donors to ensure we can continue providing essential safety services and employment for previously disadvantaged individuals, as well as conducting education and research activities in the wider Plettenberg Bay area.
URGENT APPEAL FOR FUNDING ASSISTANCE
INVEST IN PLETT BY SUPPORTING OUR SPOTTERS
Please help us to raise enough funds to cover our operating shortfall and make sure we have spotters on Plett’s beaches keeping locals and visitors safe. By making a recurring or one-off donation to Plett Spotters you are making a significant investment in the people, environment, and economy of our area.
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS FOR DONORS
Shark Spotters is a registered Non Profit Organisation (060-390-NPO), Section 18a registered Public Benefit Organisation (PBO 930037421) and Level 1 BBBEE contributor.
Donors to the organisation can receive significant tax benefits as well as CSI/SED/BBBEE points for businesses.
Shark Spotters has a tiered Supporters Programme offering additional benefits depending on the contribution made to the organisation, the information of which is available on request.
Bank: Standard Bank
Acc name: Plett Shark Spotters
Account type: Current/Cheque
Account no: 10184687894
Branch code: 051001
Swift code: SBZAZAJJ
Email proof of payment to email@example.com for a donation receipt.
MEET THE TEAM
The initiation of Plett Shark Spotters has resulted in the creation of 15 full-time work opportunities in Bitou including one local Operations Manager and 14 shark spotters. The Plett spotters are all from the under-resourced communities of New Horizon, Kwanokuthula, Pine Trees and Qolweni within Bitou.
All staff underwent intensive training provided by the Cape Town Shark Spotters team and the local Operations Manager to ensure they were competent for full spotting operations. Skills development is a priority activity at Shark Spotters and so continued training and upskilling opportunities will be provided for the Plett Shark Spotters through the year.
The Plett Shark Spotters team are guided and supported by the main Shark Spotters management team based in Cape Town who have decades of expertise in shark bite mitigation, marine conservation and NPO management.
Plett contact details:
Plett Field Manager – Nicky Namntu – cell number – firstname.lastname@example.org
Shark Spotters CEO – Sarah Waries – 0781744244 – email@example.com