Beach safety 101: Plett shark attack a 'freak incident' - NSRI

2016-12-19 12:08 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in Plettenberg Bay is urging the public, paddlers and bathers, to be cautious by swimming close to lifeguards in the area, who are on alert following what it has described as an "out of the ordinary shark incident".

News24 reports a paddler was knocked off his surf ski after a shark apparently breached and took a bite out of the lightweight vessel near the breaker line at Keurbooms Lagoon in Plettenberg Bay.

Local NSRI station commander Marc Rodgers says Ben Swart, 55, had been in the water with two friends when he felt a "hard bump" shortly after 07:00 - read the full report here

Rodgers told Traveller24 they have spoken to a resident shark expert who is currently investigating the bite marks to determine the size and type of shark.

SEE: Beaches 101: The ultimate summer guide to the Garden Route

"This is not their most active time during the year, we do spot sharks during December but not at the frequency of July through August."

"According to our shark expert this is a freak incident and while we do have sharks in the area to have activity like this is out of ordinary."

Beachgoers are however being advised to swim as close as possible to lifeguards, who are on alert to close beaches if necessary.

Photo: NSRI - to report a sea-rescue emergency dial 112 from your cellphone

'Air crew monitoring the coast'

"Coast watchers are currently monitoring the seas, along with air crew as we have a couple of local pilots who do flips every day to keep a look out for sharks - just so we can close beaches in time," says Rodgers.

"The best thing would be keep an eye on the shark alert flags and to swim close to the lifeguard tower and they will be calling people out of the water when necessary." 

You can familiarise yourself with the colour-coded flag system here: 

A red flag - The most serious of all beach warning flags, red flags warn swimmers of serious hazards in the water. One red flag means that the surf is high or there are dangerous currents, or both. Though you can still swim if there is a red flag, you should use extreme caution and go in the water only if you're a strong swimmer.

A green flag means that the spotting conditions are good and no sharks have been seen. 

A black flag means that the spotting conditions are poor, but no sharks have been seen. 

A white flag with a black shark diagram means that a shark is currently near the beach, and beach users must get out of the water. A siren is sounded and the white flag is raised. 

 SEE: Safe surfing with new Shark Spotters app!

To make summer shark safety even easier, Shark Spotters has also released their app ahead of the festive season. The Shark Spotters app provides water users with current and accurate shark safety information on their smartphones so they can make informed decisions about shark risks, even before arriving at the beach. 

The app gives users access to real-time information, allowing the Shark Spotters to render a more efficient and effective service to the community.

It also contains the vitally important flag system online, able to indicate to ocean lovers which flag is currently flying, and why. 

The flags fly for various reasons, including: 

- poor spotting conditions due to cloud cover

- confirmed shark sightings

- an indication of water temperature

- the lunar phase

What to read next on Traveller24:

Summer safety: 30 shark spotters to watch over Cape beaches

- 9 Secret Beaches along the Garden Route