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Shark Safety and Shark Bites

Fostering long-term co-existence between people and sharks requires a sound understanding of the problem and innovative thinking about ways to keep people and sharks apart. This research aims to understand factors that contribute to shark bites. In addition we conduct independent research on emerging and existing shark mitigation technologies.


Shark spotting and a shark exclusion net are two non-lethal methods successfully used in Cape Town to foster co-existence between people and sharks.

  • Kock, A.A and J.M. O’Riain. (2015). Living with white sharks: non-lethal solutions to shark-human interactions in South Africa. In: Conflicts in Conservation – Navigating Towards Solutions. Redpath, S.M., Gutierrez, R.J., Wood, K.A., Young, J.C., Evely, A. and Reed, M. (Ed). Cambridge University Press.

The shark exclusion net in Fish Hoek, False Bay is an environmentally friendly solution that keeps people and sharks apart without killing marine life or harming the environment.

The electric shark deterrent, Shark Shield, is effective at deterring white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) under certain conditions, but did not deter sharks 100% of the time.

Shark spotters uses a combination of surveillance, shark alerts, research and awareness to improve the safety of water users in Cape Town, while supporting shark conservation.

Shark attacks are rare, but increasing across the globe.

Following a spate of shark bites in Cape Town, the City of Cape Town and WWF (South Africa) convened a specialist workshop which concluded that Cape Town’s best approach to shark safety would be to support a grass roots community programme, namely Shark Spotters, and to invest in research and education.

White shark population growth is unlikely to be the reason for the spate of shark attacks in False Bay from 2004 – 2006.

A preliminary analysis of acoustic tracking data showed no direct relationship between the breaching of the Zandvlei estuary (False Bay) and white shark presence.