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Increased sightings of sharks, rays, seals and fish show Cape marine life is flourishing

Fishermen pull in a huge catch at Muizenberg Beach. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Fishermen pull in a huge catch at Muizenberg Beach. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Feb 25, 2022

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Cape Town - Increased sightings of various sharks, rays, seals and fish over the past few days shows that, despite the often concerning news affecting the environment and marine life, Cape Town’s coast is thriving with refreshingly high marine activity and an abundance of food and predators.

“There have been numerous reports of southern right whales, humpback whales as well as common dolphins around the Cape Peninsula, various species of sharks including smoothhound sharks at Fish Hoek, spotted gully sharks at Cape Point, bronze whaler sharks at Muizenberg and African penguins feeding in large schools.

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“Even killer whales were seen a few days ago,” SA National Parks (SANParks) marine biologist Alison Kock said.

Kock said that ocean users made incredible observations of several top predators, such as Cape fur seals, more than 100 bronze whaler sharks near Muizenberg, seabirds and giant short-tailed stingrays.

Shark Spotters project manager Sarah Waries said this increase in marine activity was likely because of the large schools of fish in the area.

“Over the past week we have seen quite a number of fish in the bay – big schools of yellowtail that are probably following the baitfish – and with a lot of prey, come a lot of predators which explains the large number of bronze whale sharks seen,” Waries said.

Waries said that people should expect this increased activity to continue while the weather conditions remained and urged them to exercise caution.

“On Tuesday, there was a lot of activity in the Muizenberg area but on other days it has been at Fish Hoek and at St James,” deputy mayor and spatial planning and environment mayco member, Eddie Andrew said.

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Andrews said the Bay was very active which was excellent news for all from an environmental point of view.

With this increased activity, beachgoers were in for unbelievable scenes as was the case at Surfers Corner in Muizenberg where dozens of sharks were attracted to the yellowtail caught in fishing nets on Tuesday.

“The trek net fishers were netting the yellowtail in Muizenberg and accidentally caught several bronze whaler sharks in the net. Similarly, on Sunday, Trek-Net fishers netted a large school of smoothhound sharks in Fish Hoek. The fishers rescued the sharks from the nets and returned them to the ocean in both cases,” said Kock.

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Kock said the trek fishers should be celebrated for releasing the sharks because shark populations were under threat from other commercial fishing activities.

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Cape Argus

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