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As inshore shark season has come to a close, beachgoers are reminded of the revised schedule for the deployment of Shark Spotters at beaches during winter. During this period, the exclusion net and the boat used for the deployment will also undergo the necessary maintenance in preparation for September. During the 2015/2016 summer season, the exclusion net was deployed 101 times. Furthermore, there were 92 shark sightings across all eight beaches in False Bay, with the highest numbers being at Muizenberg and Fish Hoek, respectively.

Overall, there were 92 shark sightings across all eight False Bay beaches during the 2015/2016 summer season, which is lower when compared with previous years. There were 142 shark sightings during the 2014/2015 summer.

The presence of white sharks in False Bay fluctuates annually and this is most likely due to the dynamic nature of the natural environment, such as the changing average water temperatures and changing prey resources.

Muizenberg and Fish Hoek had the highest number of shark sightings, with 33 and 24 respectively, which is consistent with previous years.In approximately 71% of the 92 shark sightings, water users were present at the time of the shark sighting and on 67% of the occasions the beach was cleared. It is important to note that not all shark sightings result in beach closures. This only occurs where the shark poses a threat to the safety of water users.

The following table shows the number of shark sightings at each beach per month from 1 May 2015 to 27 April 2016:

During the summer season, the shark exclusion net was deployed a total of 101 times. Deployments, which are largely dependent on weather conditions, were focused on weekends, public holidays and school holidays. The exclusion net has proven to be an effective shark safety measure by creating a physical barrier that prevents sharks from entering the bathing area.

The Fish Hoek shark exclusion net will be deployed again for the annual Fish Hoek Spring Splash in September.

‘The exclusion net is not deployed in winter. Instead, the exclusion net and the deployment boat will undergo scheduled maintenance and repairs in preparation for the next summer season.

‘Furthermore, beachgoers need to be aware of the changes in deployment of the Shark Spotters as of 3 May 2016. The public are reminded that during winter no Shark Spotters will be operating at the seasonal beaches of Glencairn, Clovelly and Monwabisi between 3 May and 30 September, as well as at the Hoek, Noordhoek, between 1 June and 31 August. Shark Spotters will, however, continue to operate on four beaches, namely Fish Hoek, St James/Kalk Bay, Muizenberg and the Caves in Kogel Bay, from 08:00 to 18:00 during winter.

‘The City wants to encourage beachgoers, particularly surfers who will be braving the waters during winter, to please do so responsibly and to adhere to the general shark safety advice.

‘For any questions, members of the public are encouraged to visit the Shark Spotters Info Centre on Muizenberg Beach, which will be open daily from 08:00 to 18:00. This facility affords the public the opportunity to learn about the Shark Spotters Programme, shark safety and ocean conservation in general.

‘The City is pleased to be partnering with Shark Spotters. We trust that together with the public’s cooperation and Shark Spotters’ resources and expertise, our visitors will enjoy safer beach-going experiences on our shores this winter,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, Councillor Johan van der Merwe.

For more information on the latest shark sightings and research, residents should please visit www.sharkspotters.org.za or follow the Shark Spotters on Twitter (@SharkSpotters) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/SharkSpotters).

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