Air Jaws in Fish Hoek

Things have been a little busy with work so I havn’t been out and about much recently, and I can’t imagine that you would like an account of the inside of my workshop. With that in mind I have to admit that I wasn’t there for what happened in this account, it is second hand information, but still, I wish I had seen it and I will probably spend the rest of my life watching out for it.

My partner and daughter went for a walk down to Jaeger’s Walk in Fish Hoek on Saturday morning, in the hopes of seeing a whale or two (OK, it is out of season now, but my daughter is not three yet and can get excited about anything). What they saw was something entirely different.

Despite it being good conditions for spotting whales there were none to be seen. There were however seals on the rocks (my daughters second favourite marine mammal) some of them juvenile. It isn’t unusual to see seals in the bay at Fish Hoek, but it is quite rare for them to come out onto the rocks. By all accounts they were just lazing around sleeping and sunbathing.

My partner got talking to a french couple who were scanning the waves for sharks. With all the publicity recently it is a bigger draw than the whales at the moment. They were quizzing Dustin about the local marine wildlife when the shark siren sounded and they began to change the flag to ‘shark in the water’.

No sooner was it hoisted than in the middle of the bay the water erupted and a Great White leapt from the water, ambushing a small seal and splashing back down in spectacular fashion.

You may have seen this on National Geographic, or on countless posters for sale in Cape Town, but unless you take a trip out to Seal Island you are not likely to have seen it in the flesh. What a sight it must have been, and I am truly down on the fact that I wasn’t there for no good reason than having to work.

Recently shark activity has been high in the bay, with the one near fatal interaction between a swimmer and shark. Now, I don’t want to get the backs up of the Fish Hoek Chamber of Commerce, or any of the many guest house owners in the area, however, I question how much revenue beach goers bring to the local economy. Its not like Fish Hoek has a place where anyone bored with the beach would go. Lets face it, Main Road isn’t number one on the list of places to visit for any tourist visiting the area. And the only commercial business at the beach is the Bay Side. Also, how many visitors to Fish Hoek come here solely for the purpose of spending a week on the beach enjoying the tropical waters of False Bay.

Now imagine how many tourists would be attracted to the area if there was the chance of seeing the spectacle of a 3 ton shark leaping from the water, within a stones throw of the shore? You wouldn’t have enough bus parking space in the car park.

And this is before you start adding in boat trips, cage diving all manner of other activities, not to mention shark merchandise etc. A small town to the south of Gansbaai called Van Dyke’s Bay owes its entire existence to shark tourism. Tourists travel there from Cape Town, at 4 in the morning just to see Great Whites.

Well they are here on the doorstep and nobody seems to make anything positive of it. We only talk about culling, netting and other such measures. Fish Hoek seems to be the forgotten place as far as tourism is concerned on the Cape Point Peninsula, recent incidents involving sharks have been viewed as only making this worse. Maybe we need to just have a change of perspective, put some ‘spin’ on things and exploit the eco tourism aspect of the sharks. Could be a gold mine waiting to be discovered!

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