Cape Town - The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has urged the public to be extremely cautious along the Southern Cape coastline, particularly along the Garden Route following an increase in shark activity.
A number of sightings have been recorded along the shore-line between Natures Valley, Mossel Bay and around the Plettenberg Bay shore area, due to a high number of white shark sightings recently.
On Wednesday, 25 May, hikers along an elevated stretch of a hiking trail above Wreck Beach, in Robberg Nature Reserve, noticed three surfers being harassed by a shark close to the shore.
The surfers managed to reach the beach without incident, "but this has again highlighted the necessity to urge public caution along this stretch of coastline", the NSRI says.
The increase in shark inshore presence at this time of the year is part of the normal aggregation of these animals. "Sharks are aggregating in this area at this time, as they have done in previous years, to take advantage of naturally occurring prey like seals and fish, close in shore," the NSRI says.
While shark activity along the southern coast increases during this time of year, great white shark sightings around Cape Town's beaches has declined during the cold winter season. As Shark Spotters scale down for the winter season in the Cape, however, beachgoers are still advised to be careful.
SEE: Cape beaches alert: Shark spotters downscale for winter
Along the southern coast, the biggest amount of shark sightings have been recorded close to shore along the Plettenberg Bay, mostly in the vicinity of Robberg.
If viewed from a safe distance, however, this natural phenomenon offers a rare opportunity for sightseers to view shark activity close in shore.
For safety the public are advised of the following safety precautions:
• Do not swim, surf or surf-ski when birds, dolphins or seals are feeding nearby
• Do not swim, surf or surf-ski where, fishing or spear fishing is taking place
• Do not swim in deep water beyond the breakers
• Do not swim if you are bleeding
• Do not swim near river mouths
• Do not swim, surf or surf-ski at night
• Do not swim, surf or surf-ski if there has been a whale stranding nearby
• Obey beach officials and lifeguards if told to leave the water
• If a shark has recently been sighted in an area, consider using another beach for the day
• First-time visitors to beach areas should ask the local law enforcement official, lifeguards or locals about the area
• For those people kayaking or surf-skiing far out to the sea: please consider paddling in groups and staying close together (in a diamond formation)
• Consider using a personal shark shield when you go surfing or kayaking
• Pay attention to any shark signage on beaches
• Do not swim, surf or surfski alone
NSRI says it is well prepared to deal with any incidents and officials in Plett are now carry emergency medical shark kits on all rescue boats and in NSRI rescue vehicles.
In a Sea Rescue Emergency call 112 or alternatively for sea rescue emergencies in Plettenberg Bay call the NSRI Plettenberg Bay emergency number 082 990 5975.
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