CRUCIAL ROLE: Shark Spotters help to keep bathers safe and need to raise funds to buy 35 pairs of binoculars to do their job. Picture: SharkSpotters
Cape Town - False Bay is a popular destination for tourists of all types, including great white sharks, which have been spotted in numbers along the coast.

This has led to the area becoming home to the second largest aggregation of great white sharks in the world.

Since 2004, Shark Spotters have recorded over 2163 shark sightings, with 983 sharks spotted off Muizenberg beach.

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The sharks are monitored to conserve the species, and ensure they don’t pose a danger to swimmers. But the Shark Spotters’ equipment has fallen into disrepair.

To ensure public safety, Shark Spotters rely heavily on binoculars to identify the species, and the potential threat they pose.

The binoculars the spotters use are old, they’re not powerful enough and need replacing urgently.

“We need to source additional funds to purchase 35 new pairs of binoculars.

“Our dedicated team has proved instrumental in reducing the spatial overlap between bathers and sharks in Cape Town for the past 14 years,” said Shark Spotters chief executive Sarah Waries.

Waries said the not-for-profit organisation is hoping to raise R60000 to purchase 35 new pairs of binoculars. They have raised R34 261.97 towards their goal.

This will assist them in the conservation of sharks and minimise the risk they pose, as there is a high potential for conflict between people and sharks.

Waries said an average of 35 people were present per sighting.

She explained that conserving large, predatory sharks is a major challenge, because fear stops people from supporting their conservation campaigns.

“To keep the balance between great white sharks’ conservation and public safety, it is crucial that we are supported by an education and awareness strategy, with non-lethal mitigation methods.

“Apex predator sharks play a vital role in our ecosystem, regulating populations in the lower levels of the food chain.

“They are also a key ocean health indicator and improve ocean diversity by feeding on sick or weak species,” said Waries.

In the autumn and winter months sharks are found at Seal Island in False Bay, where they feed on young seal pups.

When spring and summer arrive, the pups grow up and become harder to catch.

The sharks then change their diet and follow large game fish inshore.



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Cape Argus