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City warns of shark hotspots

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has warned about shark “hotspots” as holiday-makers prepare to hit the beaches.

False Bay’s waters are warming as summer draws near and the bay is filling with a diverse abundance of fish and small sharks. And this, the city reports, means more great white sharks closer to shore during the months ahead.

Beachgoers walk past colour coded shark warning flags, black indicating poor visibility, on Cape Town's Fish Hoek beach. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings. Credit: REUTERS

The bay’s most-feared creatures were last in the news in May, when researchers controversially satellite tagged 36 white sharks along the Cape coastline. Since their tagging, a number of the sharks have swum vast distances to waters off KwaZulu-Natal and Madagascar on the east coast, and Namibia on the west coast.

Their movements can be tracked by members of the public on the website sharks-ocearch.verite.com

Researchers have learnt from aerial surveys that there can be up to 42 great whites in the bay at one time, although numbers change all the time.

Summer also means many other species are more common in the bay, such as bronze whaler sharks, ragged-tooth sharks, smooth hound sharks and various smaller sharks and rays.

Alison Kock, of Shark Spotters, told the Cape Argus: “We expect an increase in white shark presence closer to shore in False Bay during spring and summer as the sharks start to spend less time around the seal colonies – which are the autumn and winter feeding grounds – and more time at inshore areas.”

Kock urged members of the public to consult www.sharkspotters.org.za for regular updates and advice.

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Contact numbers: Shark Spotters: 078 174 4244; Cape Town Emergency: 107 (landline) or 021 480 7700 (cellphone); NSRI: 021 449 3500

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