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By Tamlynn Johannes
Days after a fatal shark attack off Fish Hoek a Great White has been spotted, forcing swimmers and surfers to scramble from the water three times and authorities to hurriedly close some False Bay beaches.
Veteran Fish Hoek swimmer Tyna Webb was last seen on Monday when a Great White repeatedly attacked her.
Her body has yet to be recovered. All that has been found is her red bathing cap.
St James and Muizenberg beaches were closed for a while on Thursday, said Neville Michaels of the City of Cape Town's law enforcement section.
"People were allowed on the beach. As soon as the shark disappeared, some ventured back into the water," he said.
"We have the situation under control and people shouldn't stay away from our beaches."
The drama started early on Thursday morning when Fish Hoek's traffic control helicopter crew reported to the Simon's Town National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) that they had seen a shark.
The NSRI in turn alerted local law enforcement members who took precautionary measures.
Station commander of the Simon's Town NSRI, Darren Zimmerman, said: "Once we were notified, we made sure local authorities had people on standby to check the bay area."
"Spotters were placed at various points around the mountain in order to keep watch."
Once the shark was seen making its way towards Muizenberg at 3.30pm, a spotter ran along the beach waving a shark-warning flag - which is white with a black shark printed on it and easily visible - yelling to swimmers to get out of the water immediately.
Mthetheleli Mdodo, 23, from Khayelitsha, has been employed as a full-time shark spotter by a group of local surfers after John Paul "JP" Andrew was attacked by a Great White shark earlier in 2004.
Mdodo said: "I was in the lookout tower on the beach and through my binoculars I could see the shark moving towards the bay."
"It was about 150 metres from the shore."
"I immediately took my whistle and flag and ran up and down the shore to warn the swimmers and surfers of the shark."
"Other spotters employed by the law enforcement department also came down from the mountain to help."
"Only one shark has been spotted so far," he said.
Mdodo said some people in the crowd, including small children, were frightened and a few even cried.
But most bathers remained calm and followed the spotter's instructions without hesitation.
Zimmerman said on most days the wind did not allow for calm seas, making shark sightings less frequent.
Zimmerman warned that the NSRI's main activities were rescues at sea and on rivers.
Beach safety and shark warnings were the responsibility of the local authorities, including lifeguard associations and law enforcement departments, he said.
"We deal with the rescue aspect after the incident has occurred, the other parties handle all other aspects."