The NSRI have issued their annual shark warning for False Bay. Generally the sharks are in False Bay all year round but tend to stay in the deeper water, patrolling areas around Seal Island.
Towards spring however the sharks can move inshore in larger numbers (you will always get the odd character patrolling inshore waters all year round). They are searching for fish and rays, their second favourite food. Humans are not usually on the menu for Great Whites, but a sampling of foreign food for the shark will be disastrous if it is you they taste.
The density of inshore sharks is particularly high between Macassar and Strandfontein, although the warning is in place for the entire False Bay coastline, with sharks already spotted in Fish Hoek Bay.
If you are a water baby then please be extra cautious and vigilant, stay away from murky river outlets and deep water channels (apparently this is a possible reason why so many attacks have occurred off Fish Hoek Beach; there is a deep water channel that the sharks love to patrol quite close the beach.) Heed all shark warnings and familiarize yourself with the local protocols before venturing into the water.
The following may be old wives tales but you wouldn’t want to be the one to prove them right- be extra careful of the following if you are swimming or surfing:
- Don’t pee in your wet suit- there is anecdotal if not actual scientific data that weeing in your wetsuit may make you a more attractive proposition to a shark.
- Don’t swim if you are menstrual- a shark has a massively sensitive sense of smell when it comes to blood in the water.
- Likewise- don’t swim if you are cut and bleeding (if you cut yourself whilst swimming then get out of the water asap).
- Don’t splash around anymore than necessary- it attracts sharks who think that you are injured.
- Don’t swim in areas that allow the shark to hide- sounds odd, a 3 tonne shark hiding in the seaweed, but Great Whites are by nature ambush predators. If there is a deep, dark stretch of water that they can come up out of, or a murky patch of water, they will think they have a big advantage over you. You won’t know what hit you- the Hollywood images of fins out the water closing in across miles of sea are so far from the truth. Sharks aren’t that smart, they luckily haven’t worked out that in the water we are useless, they think that if we see them we will skip away like a seal. If you can see it (and it isn’t closing in on you at 70kph with its mouth wide open) then you have a good chance of getting away from it, or not, you can’t really tell with these things, they are like fine bred race horses- totally unpredictable.
You could always take my advice- you won’t get eaten by a shark on the beach (killer whale maybe, or a mugger, but sharks really like the water). The water is freezing anyway- and don’t give me that old pony about ‘bracing’ or ‘invigorating’.