A more passive way to deter Shark Attacks?

SharkStopper is claimed to make you sound scary to sharks

By Ben Coxworth / TheBombSurf

The SharkStopper PSR is worn on the ankle, and produces orca-like sounds

The SharkStopper PSR is worn on the ankle, and produces orca-like sounds.

As regular viewers of a certain TV channel will already know, the orca (or killer whale) is one of the only animals that kills sharks. It would follow, therefore, that sharks generally try to stay away from them. It was with this fact in mind that the SharkStopper Personal Shark Repellent (PSR) device was created. The ankle-worn gadget emulates orca vocalizations, and has reportedly been shown to repel various species of sharks. Continue reading

Jeffreys Bay Shark Attack

Fri, 11 October 2013 – source wavescape.co.za

A man swimming off Surfers’ Point, Jeffreys Bay, has died in a shark attack. Eye witnesses claim the man was bitten in two and died instantly. The NSRI confirmed that remains of a body has been retrieved.


sharkattack 620Craig Lambinon from the NSRI confirmed to Wavescape that a fatal attack had taken place at Point to a snorkeller, and that they were on the scene. See their press statement below.

A resident said he spoke to a member of the Supertubes Foundation, who said the victim was a swimmer with a blue bathing cap. He was apparently swimming close to the rocks, when a single, large shark attacked him and pulled him out to deeper water. A local surfer, Terry Olivier, was out on his sea kayak paddling from the Kabeljous side lower down the point when he apparently saw the man lying with his head down in the water.

Terry saw the shark, which he said was longer than his kayak. He tried to retrieve the body but the shark did not let go. He hit it with his oars, but it kept coming back.

According to some witnesses, the shark was mistaken for two sharks because the distance between tail and back fin was so long. The NSRI raced to the scene and apparently circled the remains on jetskis to guard over the victim’s remains until they could get a body bag.

Resident Paul van Jaarsveld said: “We are all in shock. I was about to get in the water to shoot a fish for lunch.”

There were two snorkellers and a few surfers out in the water, apparently oblivious to the incident, which was seen from the shore by several bystanders.

The NSRI sent out this official release:

At approximately 11h30 (Friday, 11 October) NSRI Jeffreys Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following reports of a shark incident at Lower Point, next to Albatros Beach, Jeffreys Bay.

NSRI Jeffreys Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched 2 sea rescue craft and the SA Police Services responded

On arrival on-scene remains of a body, believed to be those of an adult male, have been recovered from the water and handed into the care of the Police and the Forensic Pathology Services.

It appears, according to eye-witness reports, that the as yet unidentified male victim had been snorkeling at the time of the incident.

Police are investigating.

Sat, 12 October 2013

Family, friends and the Jeffrey’s Bay community are mourning the death of Burgert van der Westhuizen, 74, an avid open water swimmer, who was killed by a large shark on Friday morning at lower Point. His name was released early this morning.

burgert van der westhuizen with fellow swimmers

Many residents and holiday goers were in a state of panic after they witnessed or heard about a shark attack in Jeffreys Bay yesterday. Due to the severity of the attack, it was not possible to identify him and people frantically called around to locate their missing friends and loved ones. The only information available from eye witness accounts was that he was wearing a blue swim cap and that he was of an older age.

Amongst the confusion, word came from the NSRI that it was a snorkeller and not a swimmer which caused a greater stirr. Media also reported that it was a snorkeller. There were rumours of two shark attacks, or that it was two sharks. This was later corrected after it was noted that due to the size of the single shark, the tail seemed like another dorsal fin.

burgert van der westhuizen shark attack victim jeffreys bayAs the day progressed, many were relieved to find out that their friends and relatives were in safe. Unfortunately for the wife, family and friends of Burgert van der Westhuizen, he did not return return home and did not answer phone calls.

Burgert, who had started training for the coming open water swim season, had a regular swimming routine. He would park his vehicle at the petrol service station, and then walk down to the beach and enter the water from Boneyards across Checkers. Burgert was aiming to swim to the next beach break to the East towards Kabeljouws at Albatross and was two thirds of his way when the shark attacked him.

Several bystanders witnessed the attack, including a domestic worker, some people who were watching whales and Orcas with binoculars and members of the Supertubes Foundation. After Burgert had perished, a local surfer, Terry Olivier who was on his sea kayak paddling by, tried to fend off the shark, to no avail.

The South African Police and NSRI was contacted and on the scene within minutes and handled the situation with respect and professionality. When it became clear later in the day that it was Burgert who had passed away, it was decided to withold his name till all relatives and friends were informed.

The Kouga Municipality closed all beaches in Jeffrey’s Bay till further notice, and a surf competition to be held today at Kitchen Windows has been postponed to a later date.

This is the first fatal shark attack in Jeffreys Bay, although there has been many incidents with sharks in the region. This attack occurred in very clean conditions. Local divers and spear fishermen reported visibility of up to 20m in the preceding two days, with very little swell around.

Spear fishermen also remarked that fish seemed skittish and nervous making it hard to get a catch in the preceding days. There was also lots of marine activity with several whales in the bay and even killer whales in the outer area. Local fishermen also caught several large Kabeljou in the preceding week.

Wavescape would like to extent our sincere condolences to Burgert’s friends and family and our thoughts and prayers are with you.

What an Ocearch tag does to a Great White

Dead Great White washed up in Durban, with Ocearch tag certainly not looking pretty. Was this the cause of its death, ie infection from botched experiment/installation?

The research/tracking they are doing is very valuable to the understanding of Great Whites, but is there not a more humane way to do it? And perhaps without the chum/alien abduction techniques?

And some more…

Shark Attack Survival

Wed, 20 March 2013
source : http://www.wavescape.co.za/news/breaking-news/shark-survival-101.html

What would you do if you saw a shark attack someone … and then realised it was you? This is what happened to Troy Henri while surfing at Hawston, near Hermanus, on Saturday. Craig Jarvis spoke to him.


Onrus-20130317-00780aMost of us don’t think about it. We prefer to keep those dark thoughts of how we’d deal with a shark locked away somewhere deep and inaccessible, repressed by joyous visions of barrels and sunshine, of white sands and big smiles and stoke.

That is all sweet and fine and dandy until John Shark arrives unexpectedly while you’re surfing and decides he wants to say howzit. To you. Directly. Then you have to think about it. This man had time to think about it. He literally watched a shark attack him.

Troy Henri, originally from Isipingo, has been surfing for close on 40 years. He lives in the Cape now. He surfs Nine Miles and Garbage frequently, so he knows all about sharks. His conditioned response is to paddle in when you see a fin, as every surfer does, pretty much. However, he had a slightly different experience on Saturday afternoon at Hawston near Hermanus.

Guys have been surfing there for years. It gets quite good at times, but it is a fickle wave, and it has a sharky vibe to it. You know the feeling – the kelp looks ominous, and sometimes when you’re sitting out at the back surfing the lefts, it definitely feels like you’re in the thick of a serious buffet. On Saturday, the surf wasn’t even very good, but despite the average conditions, Troy and a mate paddled out, while the rest of his family hung out and started a braai at the bottom car park.

“The waves were closing out and I had been paddling for a few and pulling back, waiting for a good one. I was sitting out there, when the water around me went dark,” said Troy. “I thought it was a shadow from a cloud passing by the sun, so I remember looking up, but there were no clouds.”

Then he saw it. “I looked down and saw the profile of a big shark underneath me, and I realised what was happening, and started paddling towards the beach. The shark was inside of me, under me somewhere, but between me and the beach.”

It was about then that things started to get interesting. “As I was paddling, this tiny little fin appeared next to me. It just got bigger and bigger, as the dorsal fin started rising out of the water. It was to the right of me, cruising past me, going so slowly, heading out to sea. It was so close. At this stage I started getting really scared, you know, all these thoughts start going through your head. My 14-year-old boy was on the beach, and everything was happening so fast.”

The shark swam past, but then the nightmare started. “I checked the shark splash behind me, and do a u-turn, and I was thinking, ‘this can’t be happening. This can’t be happening.’ It was like a dreamy thing, almost like an out-of-body experience as I could actually see a shark attack about to happen. To me. I was thinking “This shark is going to kill me now.”

The shark hit Troy hard from underneath. “It hit me so hard and so fast. It hit me on the left side; hit the board by my hip. I got flung up and rolled over, and the next thing the shark was on top of me. I had my arm wrapped around the tail of the shark. It was like we were hugging each other for a second. We got tangled up in the leash, and the next thing the shark was pulling me under water hard.”

It pulled me under until the leash snapped. I had swallowed so much water in the struggle, and water was rushing up my nose from being pulled under.”

Troy got sucked under the water, still attached to the board that was somehow entangled with the shark. “It pulled me under until the leash snapped. I had swallowed so much water in the struggle, and water was rushing up my nose from being pulled under.”

Troy surfaced. The shark was nowhere to be seen. Neither was his board.

“I was about 80 meters out, maybe more, and I started swimming to the shore without my board, just expecting the shark to hit any second. I swam some freestyle and then I swam backstroke, just to keep my eye out for when it was going to hit, to fight it off if I could. As I came towards the shore I saw something dark in the water but it was a rock, and I remember standing on it, looking out to sea, feeling a bit safer. Probably wouldn’t have made any difference whatsoever if it had come back, but for some reason I felt a bit secure on it.”

Troy continued swimming. “I was swimming regularly, not splashing and panicking. I tried to stand a few times, but I was still too deep, so just kept on swimming. It was only when I could stand on the sand did I feel safe again. I was totally numb, from the shock, but I was OK. A few little cuts and stuff. The strangest thing was walking back to my family without a board. ”

Troy was still alive. Shaken, in a bit of a state, but totally unharmed.“ I went for a surf the next day,” said Troy on his rehab process. “I just managed one wave before I came in. It felt strange.”

It was a strange, radical, emotional chain of events, and Troy fully understands that he totally got lucky, got a second chance. It took a day or two for it to sink in, for him to understand the big picture of what could have been.

“Like a miracle bru. Apart from a few scratches I was untouched.”

Shark Net / Exclusion zone in Fish Hoek is in the water


Its definitely safe to go back into the water at Fish Hoek beach after a new net to keep white sharks out of the swimming area was finally installed. Cape Town – It’s definitely safe to go back into the water at Fish Hoek beach after a new net to keep white sharks out of the swimming area was finally installed on Friday. The trial net, which encloses the space between the City of Cape Town law enforcement offices and Jagger’s walk and extends 300 metres out to sea, has been in the pipeline for months. It comes in response to concerns about recreational use of the beach with sharks in the bay, and the subsequent potential negative effects on local businesses.

Felicity Purchase, South Peninsula sub-council chairwoman, said the aim of the trial was to determine the efficacy of the net as a safety measure. But they would also conduct research to understand how the net would work in a variety of weather and sea conditions, and determine whether it posed an unacceptable risk to marine life. “If successful, the use of an exclusion net at Fish Hoek beach could become a permanent safety measure,” she said. But Purchase pointed out that whatever the outcome, the net would not replace the existing Shark Spotting Programme. She warned too that there could be changes to operating hours and conditions at the beach, without notice, during the course of the trial, which continues until January. “It is not possible to determine ahead of time which days the net will operate on, and for how long it will operate each day. “This decision will be made daily, based on weather and sea conditions.” Purchase said the netted area would be mainly for the use of swimmers. “No motorised or non-motorised watercraft will be allowed within the netted area. Inflatables will be permitted.” Body boards would be allowed within the netted area, but users may be asked to leave during peak periods. Purchase said it was unlikely the net would interfere with trek fishers.

MADNESS! West Oz Govt plans to kill Great Whites

In response to attacks, Govt will pre-emptively cull sharks

The Western Australian government recently announced a $2 million plan to preemptively kill great white sharks off their coastline. In the past year, the territory has suffered five fatalities as a result of great white attacks.

“These new measures will not only help us to understand the behavior of sharks but also offer beachgoers greater protection and confidence as we head into summer,” said Western Australia’s Premier, Colin Barnett.

The decision to preemptively kill some great whites is a portion of a larger $6.8 million “shark mitigation” plan that would see the use of shark enclosure nets at some high-traffic beaches, increased tagging of sharks, further research into shark repellent, and the purchase of $500,000 of Jet Skis to give to local surf clubs to help spot sharks. The new shark-killing plan goes against current policy dictating that a shark can only be killed after they’ve attacked.

There was an outcry over the decision from Australians as many argued that the preemptive kill plan was a knee-jerk reaction to the rise in attacks recently. In response to the opposition’s outcry, Barnett told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that, “We will always put the lives and safety of beachgoers ahead of the shark. This is, after all, a fish—let’s keep it in perspective.”

WA opposition leader Mark McGowan said the decision is not only irrational, but it also undermines the federal government’s White Shark Recovery Plan, which calls for the protection of the shark.

In a statement from Sharon Livermore of the International Fund for Animal Welfare that appeared in The Australian, she argued that preemptively killing the ocean’s top apex predator could have direct consequences on the surrounding ecosystem. “WA’s decision is simply not the right response. The ocean is the shark’s habitat, and needlessly removing them from our oceans would affect the delicate balance of the marine ecosystem, which could be ecologically and economically devastating.”

Global Marine Conservation Non-profit Says

It’s Time for the Fear-Mongering to End

FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. — September 28, 2012 — In response to current reports that officials in Western Australia will be waging war on sharks beginning as early as this weekend by initiating a cull of any sharks swimming near beaches in the region, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the global marine conservation nonprofit, is crying foul. The shark cull comes in response to five deaths to surfers due to shark bites over the last year on Western Australia’s beaches. However, given all that is known about sharks, including their quickly dwindling numbers, the critical role they play in our oceans, and the small threat they actually pose to humans in the grand scheme of things, it is hard to fathom that the archaic concept of killing these animals for our “protection” still exists.

Officials plan to kill any sharks — including the protected and endangered white shark — swimming near beaches in Western Australia. At a cost of far more than the $6.35 million that the Australian government is investing in the program, it is absolutely shameful.

Make no mistake. Sea Shepherd wishes to express its heartfelt condolences to the victims’ families. But while these five tragic deaths evoke society’s primal fears, fueled by media hype, we, as a globally impacted community, need perspective.

In the last 215 years in Australia, only 18 shark-related fatalities have occurred — an average of one death every 12 years. Someone’s odds of dying from a shark bite are less than 1 in 264 million. In 2008, in Australia, one person died from a shark bite, 315 died from drowning and 694 died in car accidents.

“Before killing sharks, the Australian government must also consider their status,” says Sea Shepherd’s Director of Shark Campaigns, Julie Andersen. “The Australian government is exhibiting incredible ignorance. Sharks are in danger of extinction; up to 73 million are killed each year. Regionally, more than 90% of shark populations – including whites – have been utterly decimated. White sharks are protected nationally and internationally and the U.S. is even considering adding them to their endangered species act. Given the critical nature of their status, Australia is lucky to even have sharks in its waters,” she says.

Programs like the Shark Spotters in South Africa prove there are viable alternatives to the archaic practice of killing sharks with nets and drum lines. Other methods of harmless deterrents such as electrical current, alloys, and chemicals are also being developed.

The issue of shark culling is not new to Sea Shepherd, who has been fighting to bring an end to shark nets and other culling programs for decades. Our “remove the nets” (www.removethenets.com) campaign has been placing pressure on the government of South Africa for more than four years, rallying the support of thousands. Sea Shepherd also recently sued the government of Reunion in France and won — successfully ending the illegal shark cull called for in August in the Marine Reserve.

The days of killing animals out of fear are over. Australia — a country whose environmental policies, fueled by booming eco-tourism — should be setting precedence for the world. At a time when we are racing through our natural resources at unsustainable rates, destroying wild animals simply because we can or due to irrational fears fueled by a lack of knowledge, is no longer acceptable.

Without sharks, the oceans die. And as our founder and president Captain Paul Watson says, “If the oceans die, we die.” Sea Shepherd will not stand by quietly and allow the Australian government to destroy some of the oceans’ last remaining sharks in ignorance and arrogance. We forced the issue to become addressed in South Africa, we’ve stopped the shark cull in the La Reunion Marine Reserve and we’ll do the same in Western Australia.

Shark numbers & trends

Monday 17 Sept 2012

A significant link between lunar phase and water temperatures and shark sightings has been shown in the latest research by the Shark Spotting programme, writes Spike / www.wavescape.co.za.


Sitting in the Empire Cafe overlooking the crumbling surf of Muizenberg Corner, we discuss sharks, the ocean and surfers. Alison Kock, the shark scientist from Shark Spotters, looks forward to her first surfing lesson immediately after our meeting. She’s keen to get in the water, although from where I sit with a few more years surfing experience, the sea looks murky. But beginners seldom worry about conditions. We’re talking sharks. That’s Alison’s language, and she’s fluent in it. She’s excited that a statistical model they have been working on has crunched some fascinating trends. The starting point was data recorded by their spotters at Muizenberg Corner, Fish Hoek and Saint James over almost a decade. This included name of spotter, time of the day, lunar phase, water temperature, cloud cover, tides, and details on wind and swell.

The most basic output of the model, and that recorded by the press this week, shows that June and July have the least shark sightings, and that by September they’re steadily increasing into summer, when activity is high. These are trends we have come to know. They’re a common part of the seasonal ebb and flow as the resident white sharks of False Bay move more inshore during summer. White sharks look for easy prey, and their movements are specific to that. False Bay white sharks are mostly juveniles and sub adults that are sexually immature. As Alison says, white sharks look for easy prey, and their movements are specific to that. False Bay white sharks are mostly juveniles and sub adults that are sexually immature.

The media has overlooked aspects of the survey that are much more significant than the known fact that more white sharks are seen in summer. One that jumps out like a breaching animal is water temperature. How’s this: according to the data recorded by the spotters, there are four times more chance of spotting a white shark in 18 degree water than there is in 14 degree water. It makes sense. Bait fish are more active in warm water. Another is lunar phase. Though slightly less significant, there is still a trend showing almost twice the chance of a sighting during a New Moon than a Full Moon. The speculation here is that bait fish are more active under cover of darkness, and therefore so are predators. The problem of course, Alison says, is to find a practical use for this information. Immediate steps are underway to place water temperature and lunar phase data on information boards at the beaches. The more knowledge and information, the better for people to make up their own minds. “But we also need to digest this information and think about it a bit more. We need to consider what needs to happen.” She already has some ideas, around how water users assess conditions. Alison urges surfers to look for shark cues when sussing out the surf. Not only should we be checking out the wind, the swell and tides, but let’s expand the ritual to include shark probability. In essence, surf forecasting with a bit of shark forecasting. Does the spot fall within a high shark area? Are there shark spotters there? What time of the year is it? What is the water temperature? What is the moon doing? Is there a lot of activity in the water, such as birds, bait fish, dolphins and seals? Are you near a river mouth? Is the water murky? It’s about probability of spotting a shark given certain conditions. If numerous ‘red flag’ signals converge, surfers need to make a call, just as you might if an onshore is blowing, or the surf is too big at the spot you’re checking out.

Shark sightings on the Cape Pensinsula are increasing. Like it or not, that is inevitable. The way we deal with it is up to us. Finger pointing and acrimony will not resolve a thing. Our challenge is to keep the balance between hype and risk, and taking calcuated risks to enjoy our passion when we feel the time is right. We need to get past the hype, but without losing respect for an apex predator – a tightrope balancing act. Science is inexact. Scientists are the first to admit it. They do not provide the answers. But they do arm us with information that is critical to our understanding, and if we approach the issues as a collective, as a community, this information is invaluable. “We are not trying to foster fear. For us it’s about giving people information they can use.” Oh and by the way, she stood up on her first wave. On the second, she rode all the way to the beach.

Greedy Muppets trying to start Cage Diving in Cape Cod, USA

By Doug Fraser
dfraser@capecodonline.com / http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120904/NEWS/209040316/-1/NEWSLETTER100
September 04, 2012

CHATHAM — Monday, when most people were relaxing, enjoying a Labor Day off from the daily grind, others were hard at work fulfilling their dreams — in this case, of sharks.

Garth Donovan, a house painter based in Needham, loves to make movies and has seven independent feature-length films and one short to his credit, many as director.

Bradley Louw, an offshore lobsterman, wants to have a successful business showcasing one of the Cape’s newest natural wonders, the great white shark.

Those two desires may seem an unlikely pairing, but Donovan is shooting a movie about a man confronting his fears and Louw wanted to try out his almost-new $10,000 shark cage.

For the sake of his film, Donovan has already searched for sharks off the Cape by dropping chum — a brew of fish parts — and then jumping in the water, paddleboarding at the mouth of Chatham Harbor and swimming from a research vessel to a seal haul-out to photograph a seal freshly killed by a great white attack.

He was willing to finance a day at sea filming great whites from Louw’s shark cage on the Chatham scalloper Three Graces.

“I think today went awesome. No one got hurt, we got the sharks, we got footage,” said Louw, 23, after spending five hours off Chatham. He said the team saw four great whites ranging from 14 to 17 feet long.

Cameras, of course, were everywhere, with a cameraman circling above in a plane, two filming from the deck of the scalloper and another on a chase boat. There also were several underwater cameras strapped to the cage.

Where are the sharks? Click to view details of recent great white shark sightings

Soon after the crew departed from the Chatham municipal fish pier in the early morning hours, the pilot of the spotter plane saw sharks before cameras or crew were even ready.

Louw said he was most scared when he jumped into the cage by himself to secure some buoys, knowing that a big shark was seen circling close to the cage by the spotter pilot. Although he’s originally from South Africa where shark cage tourism is a full-blown industry, Louw had never been in one before Monday morning.

He bought the cage — a big box of marine-grade aluminum bars that looks like portable jail cell — from a man in Montauk, N.Y., who also had a dream of diving on great whites.

“It was harder to do than he thought it would be,” Louw said.

It only seemed natural to Louw that, just like a local excursion industry grew up around the population of gray seals that’s exploded over the past 20 years, there would be plenty of people willing to pay to go nose-to-nose with the sharks.

He looked at Monday’s expedition as a chance to work out the bugs in the operation. There turned out to plenty. They learned the following: Don’t tow the cage to the sharks with divers inside (“I felt like a lobster in a trap being hauled to the surface”); wear scuba gear not snorkels; let the noon sun improve water visibility; and playing loud music underwater while banging on the cage to attract sharks basically does the opposite.

The latter tactic was used instead of chumming as is done in other countries.

State shark researcher Greg Skomal said chumming is highly controversial with some scientists worrying that the sharks could start associating humans with food. That’s an extremely dangerous association when public swimming beaches are just a few miles away.

The expedition was encouraged that the spotter plane was able to find sharks quickly and guide the boat there in time. All of the services for the day, such as the boat and the spotter plane, were donated.

But limited visibility from inside the cage proved a major drawback Monday, Louw said. Even though the sharks came within a few feet of the cage, neither Louw, fellow diver Shawn Vecchione, nor Donovan could see anything but murky shadows as visibility often shifted from a couple of feet to 15 or so. That seemed to improve as the sun rose higher in the sky.

Seeing sharks was not a problem for Justin Lynch, 29, who was filming from a small skiff and saw two big great whites circling underneath him, including one measuring 17 feet long and more than 3 feet wide.

Donovan is hoping people will relate to a human being feeling vulnerable.

“It’s a real documentary; there’s no safety net,” he said.

Louw is hoping that people will see his shark cage as safe and that some would be willing to pay him to enter the shark’s domain. Like Donovan, he is willing to risk his own capital, hoping to buy a boat this year capable of transporting and lowering the cage. He wants to return to South Africa over the winter to see how the professionals do it there.

“Here,” he said about the Cape, “we have this great opportunity.”

Australia leads the way with banning shark cage diving.

The Independent Online (iol.co.za) reports that the West Australian government has taken pre-emptivemeasures to ban shark cage diving operations after four fatal shark attacks in the region since September.

This comes after heated debate, both in Australia and SA, about the link between attacks and chumming, which is used to attract sharks to the boats.

Reacting to the ban yesterday, some local shark cage diving operators blasted the move, while a marine biologist said various studies had not proved a link between chumming and shark attacks.

Australian newspapers reported this week that West Australian Fisheries Minister Norman Moore said he did not want tourist activities set up that would attract sharks and change their normal behaviour.

Research done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) at shark cage diving sites in South Australia had found that chumming kept sharks in an area for longer, but did not prove a link between chumming and attacks on humans.

Norman acknowledged that the study did not determine the long-term effects on shark behaviour, but said he would prefer not to take risks until more was known.

Shark cage diving has never been done along Australia’s west coast.

Brian McFarlane, operator and owner of Great White Shark Tours in Gansbaai, said the West Australian authorities were “overreacting”.

“There is definitely no point in banning diving. It has been proved over and over again that shark cage diving is not to the detriment of divers or people using the beaches.”

He said that while they used chumming to attract sharks to the boat, it had never been proved that this changed sharks’ behaviour.

“We do not reward sharks with food. People always want to blame something or someone, but the industry has been operating in Gansbaai for 18 years and there has never been an incident. Thousands of people surf and swim along our shores and the sharks are there as they have always been,” McFarlane said.

Another operator in Gansbaai, Wilfred Chivell, said: “Their decision is not a well-informed one. There is no link between chumming and attacks. I am very proud of the way we are handling the issue locally because these are incredible animals and accidents do happen. Sharks are in their natural habitat as they always have been. I don’t believe there is any change in shark behaviour; chumming has nothing to do with attacks.”

Alison Towner, a marine biologist for the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, said: “Cage diving sites in South Australia and SA hold the similarity that they are focused on a seal colony – a natural aggregation area for great white sharks.

“It is understandable that the Australian authorities are concerned with the high attack rate, but West Australia has never had cage diving operations and they’ve still had attacks. I think a more proactive approach would be to understand the movement of sharks properly by doing more research before making policy decisions.”

Towner, who has been researching shark movements for five years, said: “There is still no scientific link between the attacks and chumming. Sharks move around extensively and we need to have a better understanding of their movements.”

Veteran Cape Town surfer Paul Botha said: “Chumming is not the issue when it comes to diving because the operators are in areas where there is a huge aggregation of sharks.

“However, the jury is still out on whether shark cage diving affects shark behaviour because they are attracted by the chum and they come in close proximity to humans and later, when they come in shore where people are surfing and swimming, they may become more inquisitive and it might well change their behaviour.

“However, I don’t think chumming has anything to do with it.”

Alison Kock, a local scientist and research manager for Shark Spotters who conducted a study around the False Bay area similar to the CSIRO one, said local research did not find an increased risk to water users.

In SA in April, a heated chumming row erupted after the death of bodyboarder David Lilienfeld, 20, who was attacked by a great white shark while surfing at a popular surf break at Kogel Bay. – Cape Times

Sourced from : IOL NEWS / TheBombSurf.com

Another Shark Attack in Stilbaai

From Weekend Post (www.weekendpost.co.za):

Claremont surfer Paul Buckley was attacked by a shark on Monday July 7 while riding the waves in Jongensfontein in Stilbaai. He was rushed to a Mossel Bay hospital where a deep wound to his leg was stitched closed before he was discharged today (July 8).

According to NSRI station commander Rico Menezies, the attack happened at 11.15am off a beach frequented by surfers. He said until they examined the board for bite marks, they could not say what type of shark attacked Buckley or how big it was.

Local resident Pieter de Witt, known as Boeta, witnessed the attack from the patio of his parents house. He said he saw two surfers in the water and one began to thrash about wildly.

Boeta realised there was a problem and ran to the beach while his sister brought the car around. They saw Buckley paddle to the beach and ran to his aid when he called for help.

Boeta said it was clear that Buckley had been attacked by something and that his surfboard had a 20 to 25cm hole in it.

From the Eastern Province Herald (www.epherald.co.za)

A STILL Bay teenager is being hailed as a hero after he spotted a surfer being attacked by a shark and rushed to his aid.

Paul Buckley, of Claremont, Cape Town, was attacked by a shark while riding the waves at Jongensfontein in Still Bay, just south of the Garden Route, on Tuesday this week.

Grade 9 pupil Pieter “Boeta” de Witt, 14, who saw the attack from the patio of his parents‘ home, is now in line for a bravery award.

Still Bay NSRI station commander Rico Menezies said yesterday Buckley was attacked at 11.15am but the type and size of the shark were not known. “We are still trying to get hold of the board so we can examine the teeth marks before we determine that.”

De Wit said he saw two surfers in the water and that one began to thrash about. He realised there was a problem and ran to the beach while his sister, Wilmarie, brought their car around. “We saw the man paddle out of the water and we ran to him when he called for help. We could see his leg was so badly injured that it was clear something had attacked him.”

The surfboard had a 20cm to 25cm hole in it, he added.

The siblings rushed Buckley to a local doctor, who treated him for deep flesh and skin wounds on his left thigh. He was later transferred to a Mossel Bay hospital.

Buckley, still clearly shocked by the incident, said it was only thanks to God‘s grace that he had not suffered a fatal injury. He did not want any photographs taken while in hospital.

He said the shark appeared to him to have been about 2,5m long.

“Surfing is my sport and I‘ll paddle out again. Once you have the ocean in your blood, it‘s in your blood,” he said.

Hessequa Deputy Mayor Lorna Scott said De Witt would be given a bravery award for his role in helping Buckley.

Menezies said the sea conditions were favourable for a shark attack as the water was unclear and the waves were quite big.

Two whales were apparently in the area, he said, and the shark could have been drawn if they had a calf with them.

Shark attacks are rare in the Still Bay and Jongensfontein area.

Western Australia Bans Shark Tourism After Four Fatal Attacks

Western Australia state said it would introduce rules to ban most shark tourism after four fatal attacks on bathers in the region over the past year.

The lack of traditional shark gathering sites off the state’s coast may encourage operators to feed the animals to attract them to cage dives, changing their behavior in a way that could pose risks to the public, Norman Moore, fisheries minister said in an e-mailed statement today. Such operations will be banned under rules now being drafted.

Western Australia had four fatal shark attacks in a six- month period from last September to last March, according to website sharkattackfile. The state is spending A$14 million ($14.3 million) over the next four years to reduce the risk of attacks, Moore said.

“I would prefer to take no risks,” he said in the statement. “The government is not willing to allow any ventures that may raise even greater public fears than already exist.”

While studies in South Australia state by Australia’s government scientific agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, weren’t clear about whether feeding great white sharks changed their behavior in the long term, that risk had to be set against economic benefits, he said.

No one had yet applied for a license to operate cage dives in Western Australia, Moore said.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Fickling in Sydney at dfickling@bloomberg.net

National Pornographic

Did anyone read todays Cape Times? Front page story “Furore over Baboon House” really got my blood boiling. The gist of the article is the Pringle Bay communities reaction to a movie that was shot in the village last year. Sponsored by National Geographic, a film crew setup a ‘fake’ house in the village, and laced the house with foodstuffs to lure the local baboon troop to ransack the house, all being filmed by secret cameras hidden behind one-way glass. Now the baboon/house-invasion problem is a common issue in the Cape, and one the Pringle Bay folks have been trying very hard to work on in a manner that can have them living harmoniously with the baboons. Now along comes National Geographic, luring the baboons into a house with food and making another sensationalist doccie for the pleasure of the masses in their living rooms, most of them never having seen a baboon, let alone having to deal with the stress of having one looting your kitchen and taking a shit on your dining room table.

What it smacks of is this, feeding wild animals to make money. Other than this being 100% illegal in South Africa, it also seriously undermines the efforts of the local residents who have to live with these creatures, and as they say in the article, ‘One slip is enough to bring them back into our homes’.

Sounds rather familiar to our shark issue this website is so fervently fighting against. And just like the OCEARCH debacle a few months back, where again Nat Geo was funding the feeding of our wild animals. That stupid film plot may or may not have contributed to a young surfer losing their life a few days after the feeding took place, but what really gets my goat is how these multinationals are coming onto our home turf, messing with our delicate eco-system, making a ton of money, and buggering off to leave us to deal with the aftermath.

I always loved Nat Geo mags as a kid, a veritable champion of animal rights and conservation. But these mags are long gone, now its all about TV, and its the TV-side of Nat Geo that is so regularly spoiling this image. Think ‘Shark Week’, ‘When animals attack’, or an even better one, who’s seen and been horrified by ‘Swamp Men’, where a bunch of hideously uneducated hicks on the swamps of USA bait, then use shotguns to blow the brains out of alligators, all in high definition and beamed right into your home for your animal-loving viewing pleasure.

Where did things change so much at Nat Geo, that now its all about how scary, dangerous and deadly the creatures are, and with no regard for how the livelihood of these creatures is affected by the methods used to film these shows. Do they realise that baboons that repeatedly break into houses will be euthanised, basically being put down? How is that conservation or education, more like cash-driven senseless eradication in my opinion.

And why do they do it? All for the big green dollar, nothing more.

By allowing this company to mess with our nature, we are selling out one of our most unique and wonderful resources.

Say No to Chum(ps) – 3 fun ways for ordinary people to make a difference

So OCEARCH, and all the controversy and unknown damage they brought to our coast has now thankfully gone. The sham of a hearing subsequently commissioned by the Cape Town Local Government to investigate… what exactly, was so lame it didnt even make the news. 1000′s mourned and attended David’s memorial, tens of thousands lit the social media networks alive with their cries for a proper inquiry, people were in uproar, but slowly the anger subsided.

But the chumming goes on daily, with big toothy fish continually being lured with food to cages filled with nervous human beings in wetsuits.

Frustrated with the fact that money talks, that scientists will take the money, that the experts are in bed with the culprits?

If public outrage alone is not going to do it, then hit them at the source, the marketing that brings the punters.

o here’s three ways each and every one of us CAN make a difference, think Gandhi and his non-violent resistance ;)

PLEASE NOTE: We do not oppose shark cage diving entirely, just the use of chum, people and cages. Change that and we’ll be quiet.

1. Brochure collection

The shark cage dive industry is heavily marketed, with brochures advertising their tours at every petrol station, backpackers, info-kiosk and tourist hotspot. These brochures are free to the public, so take advantage of this by collecting these cool brochures, every single one on the rack. Its a nifty way of building a sweet collection of freely available material. For those not into hoarding, the brochures make excellent firestarters, paper aeroplanes, and even can double as emergency loo-roll on the dawn-patrol. But please people, we have enough litter in our country, so make sure unwanted waste does end up in the bin. Unfortunately most of the brochures are printed on plastic coated paper, with very toxic inks, so they cannot be recycled :(

2. The Click of Death

The internet is THE biggest form of advertising, and completely conducive to social activism. Ever heard of Google AdWords? In a nutshell, its where advertisers can ‘bid’ a certain amount for each time someone clicks on their link in the search results or websites (see diagram below). The advertiser with the highest bid, will have the highest rank, but usually all set a daily limit to maintain cost-effectiveness. So say for example, ‘Eco-Chumps Charters’ has a running bid of R5 per click on their ad, and has set their daily budget to R50, then after 10 clicks on their ad it will magically disappear from the results until the following day! They put the ads out there for you to click on, so do it, check out their websites, again and again.

3. The Hoot to Hand Signal – a personal favourite

When on the roads between Cape Town and Mosselbaai, searching for peaceful surf experiences as you do, it is quite common to pass by a busload of adrenalin-pumped shark-diving tourists, who often have no idea that their activity has any negative impacts (due largely to repeated brainwashing by the cage dive company’s marketing guerrillas). What better way to say hello whilst simultaneously putting the seed of doubt into their heads, than to pull the ‘hoot to hand signal’, heres how it works.
Whilst driving down the road and spotting the shark-bus, hoot your car’s horn vigorously to gain the occupants attention, once engaged, give them the universal shark diver’s greeting. The greeting mimicks the shark fin by extending the middle finger and punching the fist in the air, much like a breaching white shark. The move is best pulled whilst overtaking the shark-bus, but can be effective if coming from opposing directions simply by adding aggressive flashing of your brights in unison with the hooter. Extra points if you have surfboards on the roof.

So with these three simple techniques we can all make a (rather satisfying) difference by making a stand against an industry that does not care about us or its ramifications. We regular ocean users are the only losers in this game, and by doing nothing you accept defeat. Its through the power of the individual that things change, and there’s alot of individuals out there!


By Alan van Gysen ~ courtesy Wavescape
Orcas, also commonly known as ‘killer whales’, have always been met with a great deal of caution despite their friendly looks. This is perhaps a direct result of their sheer size, mind-boggling level of intelligence and perfected predatory skills. Strangely enough, despite the scary nickname, Orcas are more closely related to dolphins than whales.Although commonly found in oceans around the world, Orca sightings in False Bay and along the Cape peninsula have been somewhat uncommon and irregular in the past, and usually by terrified fisherman out at sea. In recent months, however, an unusual increase in public Orca sightings inside False Bay begs the question, why now?

Long time False Bay resident and Simonstown Boat Company owner David Hurwitz has spent a great deal of time documenting these highly intelligent creatures. He attributes this increase to the extremely high concentration of bait fish found in False Bay recently, which in turn attracts large pods of dolphin – the Orca’s staple diet.

One of the most remarkable local sightings of these sophisticated hunters occurred last week, when a pod was seen hunting a very large pod of dolphins close to Seal Island in False Bay. They were seen breaching spectacularly through the middle of a school of common dolphins. Orcas are apex predators, having no natural predators besides man. Individual populations often target in particular types of prey, like the common dolphin in False Bay, although they have been known to target whales and even sharks when tempted. This past Saturday a pygmy sperm whale washed up on the beach at Muizenberg, having sustained injuries from what is suspected to be an Orca attack.

In 1997 a group of tourists and a biologist witnessed one of the only documented Orca attacks on a great white shark off the Farallon Islands near San Francisco. It was reported that the great white shark population then left the area for the remainder of the season. False Bay has one of the largest resident Great White shark populations in the world, and now that the Orcas have arrived, could this mean a drop in shark sightings in False Bay for the rest of winter? For now anyway, it doesn’t seem to have affected the weekly sightings of great whites along our shores as recorded by The Shark Spotters program. But we will keep you posted.

From a surfers point of concern, Orcas pose no immediate threat, with no recorded attacks on humans outside of captivity. But as with any wild animal we should respect and protect their space. There are possibly three or four pods of Orca in False Bay at present, with roughly three to seven individuals in each pod. The Orcas have been here since February.

For more info and updates on Orca sightings and photographs please visit: http://www.facebook.com/boatcompany

Read this NOW! Facts & Questions that need answers

An anonymous email just arrived at my ‘desk’, courtesy of stopchummingnow@gmail.com. I copy it all below, and have a download link of the original PDF, and all I can say is WOW, that is how to say it!

“Please send this information (attached) to as many people as you know,
especially those involved with the Great White chumming/cage-diving
industry, the so-called shark “experts” & “researchers”, and all
people/organisations involved with ocean use activities, coastal
tourism industry and all relevant government departments. Let us force
the industry to shut down immediately and try to disprove the attached
facts. If this information goes viral and enough of the right people
get it, we may be able to stop this scandal immediately and force the
desperately needed changes.”


Below are the facts about how chumming/cage-diving is conditioning Great White sharks abnormally and causing more attacks on humans. It is also the solution to the problem. These facts, in the right hands, will help stop the current unacceptable state of affairs and precipitate the changes that need to be instituted, immediately.


The Great White (GW) is an ocean apex predator that hunts and eats live prey like fish, other sharks, sea mammals and as well as carrion, if it’s available.

In order to survive, the GW uses the following senses to find its food:

A. an acute sense of smell to follow chum trails caused by faeces, urine, blood, body break down products to locate fish shoals, seals, seal colonies or a dead animals.

B. excellent eyesight to visually evaluate the prey’s potential to be nutritious.

C. the ability to feel and evaluate vibrations in the water caused by the movements of potential prey.

D. the unique ability to identify and evaluate the nature and size of potential live prey, by the electromagnetic field that all live animals emit, using the sophisticated organs called ampullae of Lorenzini, situated on its snout.

A GW will evaluate potential prey using the four above mentioned senses, and if it is hungry, attack the prey and try to eat it.

If a GW encounters natural prey, for instance a seal, and it is hungry, the NORMAL SEQUENCE OF EVENTS is:


The GW discovers and follows a man made tuna/fish chum trail that leads to a chum/cage-diving boat and not its normal prey. The GW makes this energy investment because it is hungry. On arrival at the boat, the shark finds a piece of fish being dragged by a rope and pulled away from its bite at the last moment, towards the boat. Sometimes the GW finds a small rubber decoy (which looks exactly like one of the shark’s favourite foods, a highly nutritious young seal), also being dragged towards the boat. On being attracted closer to the boat, the GW then sees a cage filled with “unusual animals” hanging into the water from the boat. These strange animals, apart from moving, are also emitting a very clear “electromagnetic field” signature, which although it may not be the same as the shark’s normal prey, is picked up by the GW’s ampullae of Lorenzini. The result is confusion about whether the “prey” in the cage is food or not. The confused GW tries to investigate the “prey” inside the cage (by bumping or biting the cage) and discovers that the cage is hard, impregnable and it is impossible to get at the “prey”. The end result is therefore a significant time and energy investment by the GW, resulting in substantial “positive prey” sensory overload, but confusion and NO FOOD. The shark is left hungry and dissatisfied.


Conditioning of intelligent animals is proven and undisputed (Pavlov). Chumming frustrates great whites by keeping them hungry and dissatisfied. This causes them to be abnormally aggressive. It is scientifically acknowledged that the Great White sharks exposed to chum/cage-diving, still move off and continue to travel widely. The problem occurs when this negatively affected GW encounters an un-caged human (surfer or swimmer) in the water. They discover that the human is emitting exactly the same electromagnetic field as was emitted by the unusual “prey” that was in the cage hanging from the boat. This triggers the memory of the chum/cage boat experience. Because the GW is intelligent, it works out that the same “prey” is not being protected by a cage. The memory of a previous frustrating chum/cage-diving boat experience, (during which the sharks senses we all screaming food yet their hunger was not satisfied) causes the shark to aggressively attack the human prey, irrespective of the nutritional value.

The abnormal “positive for food” sensory confusion created during the previous chum/cage-diving boat experience, causes the following ABNORMAL SEQUENCE OF EVENTS:

The additional tragedy of this unnatural and abnormal experience is that there is a VERY HIGH RISK that this “conditioned” GW will attack any un-caged human it encounters in the water in future, again.


We defy any person or “expert” to refute the above facts. They cannot, but what they will immediately say is that the above facts have not been proven. THAT IS NOT THE POINT, its common sense. THE POINT ACTUALLY IS, until the above facts can be disproved beyond a reasonable doubt, it is the duty of Government and every single person associated in any way with the industry, to cease chumming & cage-diving immediately. It is then their constitutional duty to prove that the above facts are untrue, before they are allowed to continue with chumming and cage-diving. They will be reluctant to do this, simply because they are financially dependent on the chumming/cage-diving industry and it is in their own interests to leave the current status quo, unchanged. This represents a blatant conflict of interest.

To stop chumming/cage-diving in its current unacceptable form immediately, the industry must be investigated. A comprehensive audit (including financial) must be instituted to find out what is actually going on and everybody involved with the industry (including the “so-called experts”) must be forced to respond to the following questions:

1. who is actually being paid what, where exactly is the money going?

2. why does it appear that there are no previously disadvantaged members of society involved in the industry and providing the services?

3. apart from “shark spotting” which if the sharks were still behaving normally, would not have been required, can you confirm what, if any, job training/skills opportunities, community investments the cage-diving industry is making to help ordinary South Africans?

4. who finances the so called shark “expert” research organisations/trusts/funds and how is the money being used?

5. why, after every unfortunate shark attack, do the so-called “experts” immediately respond by saying in the media that “chumming is no problem and that there is no proof that it conditions or modifies shark behaviour in any way. The shark made a mistake and we should accept that there is always a normal, slight risk of being attacked by a GW if we venture into their domain.” Does this argument still hold true if the sharks are abnormally aggressive and the number of attacks is increasing?

6. where did the Fischer boat (Shark Men Program) millions actually end up?

7. why do people like Gregg Oelofse talk in the press about “the small immaterial chumming by permitted cage divers”. The Fischer boat does actually tag the sharks and does not hang humans in the water. Is it not possible constant chumming by permitted cage divers is “hugely material” and actually the real cause of the problem?

8. why does Paul Botha on radio recommend that a full investigation should be instituted to investigate the Fischer boat “5 ton chum permit” on the one hand, and on the other hand say that chum/cage-diving is no problem. Do sharks actually distinguish between the size of the chum source that they follow or is chumming simply just chumming?

9. if chumming is no problem, why did Boyd stop the Fischer boat “5 ton chum permit” immediately after the Kogel bay attack?

10. why do we read articles saying it was impossible for the Fischer boat chum to reach Kogel bay because of the wind, also that the shark that attacked David Lillienfeld, (the Springbok body boarder who was tragically killed), wasn’t a tagged shark. Why are these people defending chumming and tagging so vehemently?

11. a few years ago, after protecting alligators in Florida, their numbers increased logarithmically and they became a pest. Authorities in Florida were forced to institute a culling program. Can you please confirm that you are sure that the South African Great White population is not increasing logarithmically to dangerous totally unsustainable levels?

12. in what way are the sharks actually being helped. If they are protected, how is the cage-diving helping them further? Can you be sure that the chum/cage-diving industry is not conditioning sharks to be abnormally, aggressive towards humans & therefore directly responsible for the recent increase in the number of shark attacks?

13. why do the “experts” like to explain that the reason that the sharks are coming inshore and attacking more humans is because they have less fish to eat. This may be true, but how can our response be to just sit back and accept it. Why are there no measures being instituted to try to increase the fish or limit the shark population?

14. how can the controlled killing of “rogue”, territorial sharks near human attack areas and drum lining be regarded as best practice in Australia and other countries (where they have less attacks) and regarded as totally unacceptable in SA?

15. will the so-called “experts” including Alison Kock, explain why the usual excuse for a shark attacking a human used to be “the shark bite was simply exploratory and they made a mistake because it is clear that GWs don’t like to attack humans” has now been replaced by “the shark attacked the surfer THREE times until it tragically killed him”. Is this migration from “unfortunate mistake” to “relentless aggressive attack” not proof of negative conditioning caused by chum/cage-diving?

16. how can it be possible that society accepts the opinion of the so called “shark experts”, that “there is no proof that chummed sharks are becoming more aggressive” when no-one is searching for that proof and doing any of the required essential investigations. Is there “no proof” because perhaps everybody is conveniently avoiding looking for it?

17. can it feasibly be true that “nothing has changed at all with regards to shark behaviour” if during a morning news bulletin on SA FM (Saturday the 28th of April), a “Great white increased activity warning” was issued for False bay. Is this not clear quantification that the shark situation is currently nowhere near being close to normal?

18. are the Australians and Americans more intelligent than we are? Why do they not chum/cage-dive near high use beaches?

19. is it not possible that the great argument that “chumming/cage-diving brings in much needed foreign revenue” totally incorrect because this revenue is way less than the millions being lost because beach going tourists and locals are avoiding SA in their thousands because of shark attacks?(ask the Muizenberg and Fish Hoek businesses)

20.on examining footage of the shark catching activities of Fischer (Shark-men) boat, it does appear that the scientists are in the water with the sharks while they’re being manhandled. Again, this means the shark is being bathed in the human “electromagnetic field” only this time as a prelude and then postscript to having holes drilled into its fin and needles buried into its tail. If an elephant or, or a dog can remember cruelty, why can’t sharks. ?

21. finally and most importantly, please tell us what you think about the following future quite feasible scenario: Those parties or experts who continue vehemently and blindly to defend the chum/cage-diving industry and thereby prevent its immediate shut down and the essential scientific investigation that is required, are thoroughly investigated themselves. If it is found that their behaviour was motivated by money and a blatant conflict of interest exists, that they are held liable for damages/compensation to injured parties and if possible within the law, prosecuted and punished if criminality can be proven. The size of the feeling of outrage and opposition to the chum/cage-diving industry amongst South Africans, throughout the country (just look in the newspapers) should not be underestimated. Raising the finance that will be required for the investigations and the necessary class actions, from so many people, is totally feasible. STOP THE CHUM/CAGE-DIVING INDUSTRY IMMEDIATELY!


1. Stop dangling humans in cages from boats into chum trails immediately and use technology to allow the tourists to watch the sharks underwater from the chum boats.

2. Use modified “glass bottomed boat” technology to view the sharks underwater.

3. Keeping humans out of the water will stop the electromagnetic fields that they emit, being incorrectly associated with food by the sharks and their normal behaviour will stop being negatively modified.

4. Make sure that there is an immediate investigation instituted to quantify as far as is possible the balance between shark numbers and available food. After all, it is essential for this balance to be correct for future sustainability. The controlled culling of elephants in game parks to restore this balance is accepted as essential for their survival.

5. (removed by admin, as we do not condone/promote this aspect of this letter. If you want to read the missing bit please download the stopchummingnow PDF)

Wake up South Africa!! Doctors once gave pregnant woman thalidomide for morning sickness, thought that smallpox was caused by bad air and having lice was normal. Let us regain our senses and develop a balanced program that is good for sharks, the environment and humans. It will be the only one that will be sustainable in the long term.


Ocean Lovers Against Chumming

In the wake of the Ocearch controversy, and David Lilienfeld’s tragic death, a new group has been formed on Facebook, Ocean lovers against chumming. The group was established during a very emotional time for Cape Town, and indeed further afield, in relation to the ongoing nightmare that is chumming for Great White Sharks in South Africa.

Ocean lovers against chumming has managed to capitalise on the massive outpourings of anger, rage, discontent and confusion that has subsequently gripped the Cape surf family, and by applying a very direct ‘name’ to the group, and with the obvious timing, he has been able to garner support in a way that is quite amazing (over 6000 members within the first 48 hours of launching the page). I have been trying to get this kind of response for several years of working through this website and the sticker campaign, writing articles to our major surf rags who begrudgingly got involved, countless meetings with interested individuals, marine lawyers and activists (Also due a mention in the process has been Rob Munro, a Boland activist who has put in a lot of time and energy into his Facebook group, Stop Shark Cage Diving in South Africa . Thanks Rob.) and I am totally stoked that finally the greater public is getting involved, talking about chumming, seeking out and sharing research, and burning up the social networks in heated debate.

By using the name Ocean Lovers Against Chumming it solves several issues that we have had with Surfers Against Shark Cage Diving.

1. That many people concerned about the impacts of chumming are not surfers, but everyones an ocean lover, and thus able to attract far wider support.

2. Pre-Ocearch the only people chumming the water were the Shark Cage Dive operators, and that is who we directed our fight against. But many people who wrote in to our website said they were not entirely anti shark cage diving (I wonder if they are still?), and so wouldnt join up. In light of this we did shift our name to Surfers For Responsible Shark Cage Diving, and have spent many hours trying to push for a legislative approach whereby the industry is properly regulated, but have not met any success in this regard as of yet.

So Ocean Lovers Against Chumming nicely sums up exactly what we all are, in a more direct, non-exclusive way. Justin Othersurfa whole-heartedly endorses what is happening, it is what we have been pushing for all along, and how it came about (ie through another group than our own) is not important, what is important is that as many concerned individuals lend their voices to ONE channel so that with great numbers we can effect CHANGE.

If you havent already, join the group, put your hand up and be counted, lets do something about this. Talk only gets so far, just look at the Arab Spring revolution, enough pissed off people can do some major things!

I will hereby be closing our Facebook groups for Surfers Against Shark Cage Diving, and messaging all our members to sign-up with Ocean Lovers Against Chumming. I will still put my efforts into www.surfersagainstsharkcagediving.com as this is what I personally feel, and will continue to represent the Surfer’s perspective, we are the most vulnerable after all.

Thanks to everyone who has supported the cause, Justin Othersurfa’s 271 friends, Rob, Pierre and the 6835 members of Ocean Lovers Against Chumming.

Lets do it together.

Public emotion coming though in comics


:: shapirosnaddon-chumming-apr-2012:: chip

and then this came in from Leslie in Namibia!


The news of the shark attack on David has now spilt over to Namibia. I attach clip from news paper.  I now suggest Namibians seek a different destination(other than Cape Town) for their annual beach holidays.  It seems the authorities can only understand money.  So
lets take our money elsewhere.

I have commissioned the artist in my family do  do a series of images displaying the ignorance and line of thought of the people at the top.  You may publish these as you wish as long as you get no financial gain from them.  We need to spread the word!
Stop Chumming!!!


Open letter to the Cape Surf community

Well its now happened, another well-loved person doing what they love has lost their life to a shark, and the chumming continues.
Dave Lilienfeld was a very accomplished wave-slider and will be sadly missed by the Western Cape surfing family. Our deepest sympathies for his family and friends, and we hope he finds perfect wedges up in the clouds.

But its time to stop bullshitting people and start calling a fish a fish, chum-ps.

This madness of chumming Great Whites in our waters is causing serious harm. If its so safe, why does a film-crew from California, which has one of the worlds largest populations of Great White sharks, have to come here to South Africa to shoot these documentaries and do their research. Chris Fischer, Ryan Turner and the Ocearch team, Go chum your own fricken water, we don’t want you here.

To the disbelievers, lofty science voices, screaming for facts, here you go. Large amounts of chum are unseasonally dropped into False bay, an area used daily by thousands of local ocean-lovers .Many new Great Whites are attracted into the bay as a result. The crap you and your ‘scientists’ drop in the ocean smells like food, but the sharks get no meal or reward, other than an awoken appetite and a nice shiny new tag drilled into their fin. The notion that only the area within 2km of the chum drop is of concern, and obviously ignoring the chum-slick, is now totally blown out of the water, as is also illustrated the fact that it happened three days after the initial chumming, showing a higher than normal amount of large great whites had actually hung around in the area, probably in search of food, and therefore showing a very clear direct change in behaviour. (Up to 6 large (3-4.5m) Great Whites were seen around Koeel Bay just after the incident, this is not an usual occurence)

To the surf-riders sitting on the fence, denying whats going on infront of us, join ranks, voice your discontent. This.shit.has.GOT.to.stop.

I’m not saying I condone they guys who dropped a few matches on the cage dive boat after the negative review on Carte Blanche all those years ago, but I’m saying lets make it hard for them to operate, laws take years to get things done, public power and opinion can change things in minutes. Let our community come together, and by this I mean you, not some other people. We each have a responsibility to do something, come up with clever publicity stunts, write to newspapers, blog the hell out of it, then… organise protest marches in the towns of the main chum-ps, thousands of angry citizens saying enough is enough … in the townships people go bos when they’re not happy, lets go bos over unethical treatment of our animals, endangerment of ourselves and friends, and threatening our safety whilst we exercise our God-given right to slide through salt-water tunnels. The vibe will get a lot of media coverage, and if it hits the overseas news, its a done deal. Using chum to attract Great White sharks is not cool.

Surfers for Responsible Shark Cage Diving aims to be a collective movement that opposes the use of chum to attract sharks in South African waters. If you feel strongly about this you can submit your name to our membership list, befriend Justin Othersurfa on Facebook, and help form a powerful group that can create change.



 ~ By Zigzag ~

Earlier this week, Wildlife Photographer Dr Dirk Schmidt brought public attention to the fact that a documentary research crew had been given permission to use five tons of chum in False Bay over a 20 day period. The film production company involved, Ocearch, has already commenced filming, scheduled from 10-30 April.
The open letter, (which can be read here) has led to an outcry from some False Bay surfers and members of the general public. Zag contacted Dr Alan Boyd from the Department of Environmental Affairs (who issued the permit), to ask for more details on how the permit was issued and how they assessed the impact the extra chumming would have. Feel free to comment below.
Zigzag: What is the process for issuing permits like this, and is there any kind of consultation process?
Dr Alan Boyd: Applications for Research Permits on marine Protected Species (or research work in Marine Protected Areas) are the responsibility of Branch Oceans and Coasts within the Department of Environmental Affairs. They are evaluated by an Internal Research Permit Committee (RPC) which makes recommendations to the Director of Biodiversity and Coastal Research (myself, Dr Alan Boyd) who then decides whether to issue the permit or not and what conditions need to be in place (based largely on the recommendations).
The Sharkmen research applications went through a RPC evaluation. This was followed by an intensive all-day meeting on 16 January attended by most of South Africa’s leading shark researchers which allowed all the proposed projects (including those about which the Department had reservations at that stage) to be discussed. It was agreed at this meeting that a specialist panel including members from inside and outside government, and a state vet, would look again at all research proposals and draw up detailed protocols for each type of sampling activity to ensure that the sharks were treated ethically. These sampling protocols were augmented by additional permit conditions indicating what methods could be used to catch sharks.
What does the permit cost and where does this money go?
There is no permit fee for Research Permits. The main costs of the expedition are being borne by Fischer Productions and Ocearch, who are also providing the vessel Ocearch and who are involved in the non-scientific aspects of the work and these costs will be covered from the proceeds of filming of the research activities.
Who are the film crew involved?
The main people involved are Chris Fischer and Chris Moore, plus seven others.
The figure given is 5 tons of chum over 20 days. Is this significantly more chum than would be used during normal cage diving operations over the same period?
The figure is correct. In terms of individual operators it is significantly more chum on a daily basis as operators are allowed only 25kg per day. In terms of the amount used at Gansbaai by all operators combined (8x25kg), it is about the same on a daily basis. Greater amounts are needed because of the nature of the research which involves working in multiple areas for relatively short periods of time. A Departmental official on board will monitor this activity.
With the increased amount of chumming, is there expected to be increased shark activity?
Yes, there should be increased shark activity in the vicinity of the vessel – which after all is the purpose of chumming. There will not be increased activity in areas away from the vessel. The amount to be used can be visualised as a bucket of fish pieces thrown into the ocean typically 5km away from the shore, once or twice per hour. Its impact is very local.
Do you agree this additional chumming increases the risk of human / shark interaction around False Bay, as pointed out by Dr Schmidt?
Not at all. The work in False Bay is likely to focus on the existing WSCD area around Seal Island, and York Shoal which is further offshore. No chumming or similar activity is allowed within 2km of the coast anywhere in False Bay, and the entire Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area is off limits. This includes the entire coast from Cape Point to Muizenberg to a distance of at least 5km offshore.
Was any kind of public announcement or warning planned as part of issuing the permit?
No, other than a general communication to affected stakeholders such as cage diving operators. There is no additional risk to the public, and the majority of direct stakeholders are either supportive or neutral with respect to the project. The alarmist messages being put out about this research endangering the public are inaccurate.

Five Tons of Chum

Friday 13 April 2012 – courtesy Wavescape

Here is the Shark Spotters official response to the five-tons-of-chum controversy, bringing some facts and level heads to the table. By the way, Five Tons of Chum. Nice name for a blues band?

sharkfilm2“This project has recently received a lot of attention and some concerns have been raised about the possibility of increased risk to water users in False Bay. As a result it is appropriate for the Shark Spotting Programme to now release a formal statement in that regard to its stakeholders and beach user groups.

“The Ocearch research/documentary expedition was not initiated by the City of Cape Town or the Shark Spotting Programme. The permit and approval for this initiative has been provided by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) Oceans and Coasts Branch who are mandated to coordinate research and issue research permits on marine protected species. The research component is a collaboration between local and international scientists representing 16 research institutions, while the filming component is run by Fischer productions.

“The role of formal communication is through DEA and the Shark Spotting Programme believes that more open communication regards this project to the public and users of False Bay would have gone a long way in ensuring that the correct and factual information was provided in advance of the project commencing in False Bay.

“When given the opportunity, the City of Cape Town and the Shark Spotters requested that permits be amended to include:

1) No chumming to take place within any inshore areas (closer than 2km from the coast) in False Bay

2) The City of Cape Town may place an observer on board one of the Project Vessels subject to a request being made 2 days in advance (or less should it be mutually agreed) for work in any area outside of the approved White Shark Cage Diving area in False Bay.

“Considering these facts, the Shark Spotting Programme does however hold the following view on the activities in False Bay:

1)    The scientific value of long term satellite tracking of white sharks will add significant insight into their ecology and behaviour and will ultimately contribute to our enhanced understanding of these animals which will assist us in providing better information to enhance water user safety.  We cannot learn more about these animals without this kind of work being done.

2)    Research at this scale has never been conducted before in South African waters and the costs of such work are prohibitive. As such, funding by documentary filmmakers is necessary to finance the scientific research

3)    The view that has been circulated that 5 tonnes of chum will be used in False Bay is factually incorrect and has created significant miss-information amongst the public. The vessel will operate in multiple areas between Cape Point and Cape Agulhas for relatively short periods of time and a DEA official on board will monitor all activities. In False Bay, the research will primarily take place at Seal Island and surrounds as this is where the highest concentration of white sharks are at this time of year.

4)    The Shark Spotting Programme has worked with Mr. Meyer from DEA for many years and has the greatest respect and confidence in his integrity and knowledge.  Mr. Meyer will be on board at all times and will have overall control of all fishing and tagging aspects and as a result the Shark Spotting Programme is confident that all the necessary checks and balances will be in place.

5)    Further, as one of over 30 scientists involved in this project, the Shark Spotting Research Manager Alison Kock will be on board during all False Bay work and will liaise directly with the Shark Spotter Programme field staff from the boat throughout the operation.

“Finally, given that the Ocearch project will work in False Bay for a few days between 10 – 30 April, our role is to ensure that where possible all relevant checks and balances are in place which we believe we have achieved. Our spotting teams will be on the mountain and on the beaches as they are everyday and our standard safety protocols will apply.  Where necessary we will provide any updates via twitter and our website.

To view the tracks of the tagged sharks visit https://www.facebook.com/OCEARCH

Please Don’t Eat Me

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Surfboard signs for sharks and the semantic activism of Conn Bertish promises to turn he apex predator relationship on its head. Sharks make 90 billion kills a year. Unfortunately, for them, five are human.
Pics by Etienne Kallos. Words : Wavescape


For the last eleven months, The South African Surfers Call Research Laboratory (SASCRAL) have been developing new technologies aimed at debunking the ridiculous fear humans seem to have regarding sharks”, said Conn Bertish, a BSoc Sci Graduate of UCT.

Together, he and his team have developed a first-to-world innovative shark repellent device, using the sciences of chemistry, paleontology and method-linguistics. The repellant, dubbed ‘Shark Bro’ has a success rate of 100%.

“My team and I have been field testing Shark Bro for the last 8 months and none of us have been killed or even mauled,” said Conn.

To launch the product, Conn gave a demonstration of the repellent device to the world’s media by paddling a surfboard across the 2Oceans Aquarium Shark Tank on Monday.


The method-linguistics aspect of the device was developed by a team of leading SASCRAL experts from the top global institutes in the field. Brilliantly simple in its astounding complexity, the “I’m not a seal” and “Tastes Like Broccoli” san-serif text on the bottom of the boards gave an unambiguous message to the sharks – “please don’t eat me, I’m not worth it”.

It’s actually incredible that until now no institute has come up with such a direct shark-to-human approach in dealing with the shark issue, and it makes shark nets and shields seem very last-century in comparison. Shrouded in scientific obscurity, the paleontological and chemical properties of the device were less easy to comprehend by a mere journalist, yet they clearly contributed to the overall functioning of the device, because the shark-test dummy paddled fearlessly around the tank, completely unmolested by the oceans’ apex predator.

Comments on the Shark Bro Face Book page showed a range of perspectives on Conn’s demonstration:

the respectful: “You sir are an Officer and a Lunatic. God Bless You Kaptein Koen.”

the patriotic: Jissus, boet!! … hope it goes well … I will be rooting for you, not the sharks!

the selfish: “Conn, if the shark fu*king eats you, who’s going to be our MC, hmmmm?”

the missed the point: “A more meaningful publicity stunt would be to invite the media to witness a paddle around Seal Island. Then I would most definitely attend as it would be a farewell gathering. I hope the device works as much as the next water-user – but the aquarium is not a test!”

True to their marketing campaign, the Shark Bro had a 100% success rate on the day. This is great breakthrough in our understanding of shark behavior – they are a lot smarter then we think.

However, it’s an even greater breakthrough in our understanding of ourselves – we are not nearly as smart as we think we are.

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Fish Hoek sub-council votes in favour of shark exclusion zone

ca pg8 Shark Spotters


A spotter waves his flag to direct fishermen to a shoal of yellowtail offshore

by GARTHKING / Echo Newspaper 23/03/2012
The South Peninsula Sub-council on Monday unanimously voted in favour of a “shark exclusion ‘zone” trial at Fish Hoek beach. Referring to the document “Efficacy
of Exclusion Nets as a Safety Device for a Cape Beach – Proposed Trial Installation
of an Exclusion Net at Fish Hoek Beach,” Gregg Oelofse, head of the environmen-
tal policy and management department, said at the sub-council’s monthly meeting
at the Fish Hoek civic centre that “four important points needed to be made”:
• “It’s not a net like they have in KwaZulu-Natal and it’s not a permanent
fixture. We will not use any safety measures that can cause any harm to the
marine environment. This is no fatal measure. These small-mesh nets were
used in Hong Kong for 20 years and there is no record of entanglements
there,” he said.
• Fish Hoek is a marginal area for the net because of the swells, high winds,
tidal action and the presence of kelp. The nets will only be deployed when
conditions are favourable and only when shark activity is present, notably in the
summer months. He noted that in October 2011 great
white sharks were spotted 55 times. “On each of these occasions the siren was
sounded and this resulted in the beach being virtually unusable during that
• No City of Cape Town department . has budgeted for this installation and its
maintenance. Funding mechanisms need to be found.
• “Our main concern is the safety of children, particularly the nippers.
“Adults must exercise their own responsibilities. ”

Reacting to the report, sub-council chair Felicity Purchase offered her con-
gratulations to Mr Oelofse for the quality and scope of the report.
Referring to funding mechanisms for the device, she said:
“We need to look at ring-fencing the beach parking fees. We could double the
income from this ‘source. This offers a long-term solution to a serious chal-
lenge. Use of the beach is closely connected to our economy and the exclusion
zone project has my full support.When the proposal was put to the sub-council,
they unanimously accepted it,” she said.

• Part of Mr Oelofse’s report noted that the shark spotters’ programme
would remain, and that “should measurable and significant ecological impacts
arise as a result of the net and which cannot be mitigated, the net would be
removed and the project discontinued”.

The report also noted. that “the net will be removed during the peak months
of the whale season”. .

Great White Shark caught @ Fish Hoek

Thanks to supporter Danie Olivier for sending this through…

Herewith the pictures of the 4.3m Great White Shark that was discovered in the Bay at Fish Hoek beach on Sunday, 11 March 2012. 

The carcass was towed to the Simons Town Naval base by the Shark Explorer vessel of the Department of Environmental Affairs  Oceans & Coasts Branch (Marine & Coastal Management).  City Solid Waste Management transported the carcass to the facility of the Department of Environmental Affairs in Paarden Eiland.
A necropsy will be undertaken by scientists of the Department of Environmental Affairs to establish the cause of death of the great white shark.
It is believed that the shark is between 10 and 15 years old.  It was discovered when the shark spotters raised the whelk nets.

News Shark-shield launched in Hawaii

HONOLULU  – Pro surfer Joel Centeio believes in the small device he straps to his ankle when he takes to the water.

“It just gives me that sense of safety. And I feel comfortable when I’m wearing it,” he said.

The tiny box on the Velcro strap is called the Electronic Shark Defense System or ESDS.

Wilson Vinano created the lightweight machine. He said it emits an electric pulse that repels sharks by affecting the gel in a shark’s nose.

Video on the his web site shows sharks dodging a bag of fish when the device is nearby, then shredding it to smithereens when the unit is taken away.

“We tested it on divers, our divers that swam around with it with sharks around. The sharks would just fade away. They wouldn’t even attempt to come close,” Vinano said.

He worked on the ESDS for five years and field tested different versions for hundreds of hours.

Collin Kobayashi of 3D Innovations and other engineers perfected the unit, making it watertight, compact and streamlined.

“We took all of the different parts that go in here. And then we tested it to make sure it fits. Once it fit we were able to send that file to get tooled up,” he said.

The device is about the size of a deck of cards and weighs about seven ounces. It runs on a battery that lasts nine hours before it needs a recharge.

Other shark repellent devices are bigger. Vinano said the ESDS is universal.

Centeio uses his religiously.

“Not only surfers, but divers, just normal beach goers could use it,” he said.

“Get your devices,” Vinano said. “It will help you feel more confident in the water than worrying about sharks.”

The Electronic Shark Defense System costs $335 with a surf leash and $299 without one. It goes on sale Monday on Vinano’s web site www.esdshawaii.com.

courtesy http://www.thebombsurf.com/blog/7/165/too-good-to-be-true-or-the-solution-to-our-worst-fears

Whale Shark at Soetwater

Monday 19 March 2012

While Cape Town enjoyed great surf yesterday, a juvenile whale shark lay dying as it wallowed in the shallows among rocks along the coast of the southern peninsula, writes Spike.

whaleshark1whaleshark2After surfing in the Soetwater reserve, a group of surfers noticed a juvenile whale shark (it was four metres long and adults grow up to 12 metres) struggling in a small rocky bay to the left of a surfing break.

They tried to get the shark into deep water, but it seemed lethargic and weak. A small crowd gathered as the surfers made gentle but futile efforts to nurse it out into the bay where it would have a fighting chance. However, the outer reefs were thumping with a 4-6′ swell, and lines of white water were always going to be an insurmountable barrier to the weakened and possibly wounded creature.

In response to a Tweet I made from the scene, Sarah Titley – head of the Shark Spotters programme – called for information, and followed up with a call to Marine and Coastal Management who couldn’t come immediately because they were busy with a dolphin somewhere else in the Cape Town area.

“I called the NSRI, who made there way there from the Kommetjie station. When I arrived, the shark was on the rocks and kids were jumping on its stomach. I shouted at them,” she said.

MCM has taken the creature to take samples and to determine the cause of death. Titley said that the presense of whale sharks in Cape Town waters was unusual but not unheard of. “I’ve know of juveniles washing up before, but not adults.”

She pointed out that the entry on whale sharks in Wikipedia states that the first recoded sighting of a whale shark in the world took place in the 1800s in Table Bay, Cape Town.

“The species was distinguished in April 1828 after the harpooning of a 4.6 metres (15.1 ft) specimen in Table Bay, South Africa. Andrew Smith, a military doctor associated with British troops stationed in Cape Town, described it the following year. The name “whale shark” comes from the fish’s physiology, being as large as many whales and also a filter feeder like many whale species.” – Wikipedia


courtesy= Spike (who was there) and http://www.wavescape.co.za/breaking-news/breaking-news/whale-shark-dies.html

A trial shark exclusion net proposed for Fish Hoek beach

©Enrico Genari - Alison Kock - Save Our Seas

Since 2004, Fish Hoek Beach has had two fatal shark attacks as well as a third which resulted in severe injuries and the loss of a limb. As a result of the high presence of white sharks within the inshore area of this bay, recreational and social use of Fish Hoek Beach, as well as social perceptions of Fish Hoek Beach, have been negatively impacted.

In 2006, the City contracted the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board to assess the potential of deploying an exclusion net at Fish Hoek Beach as a safety measure.

“At the time, it was recommended not to deploy an exclusion net. The potential for deployment of an exclusion net as additional bather safety measure now needs to be reconsidered,” said Alderman Belinda Walker, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic, Environmental & Spatial Planning.

An exclusion net is not the same as shark nets currently used in KwaZulu-Natal.

Exclusion nets are small meshed nets designed to act as a barrier to sharks preventing them from entering an enclosed area. In the proposed trial the area that would be protected would be kept to a minimum, but large enough to provide a recreational space and training area for the life-saving club. As such the area would be less than the size of two rugby fields and would run from just off Jaggers Walk on the south of the beach diagonally across to the Law Enforcement offices on the beach. The small mesh of the nets prevents capture or entanglement of marine species and the net acts only as a barrier.

Shark nets on the other hand are used along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline and are essentially fishing devices known as large meshed gill nets that entangle and catch sharks, reducing the local shark population and, by fishing for sharks within the vicinity of a protected beach, reducing the risk of shark attack. They cover large geographic areas and are further out at sea than exclusion nets. These nets are not species selective and hence also result in a range of other marine species becoming entangled.
Proposed Shark Exclusion Net at Fish Hoek beach, Cape Town
Figure 1: The location of the trial exclusion net on Fish Hoek beach (supplied)

“We will be proposing to the Subcouncil and ultimately Council that the exclusion net be deployed under a research permit, as this will provide the only realistic means of assessing the potential success of the net as a long term safety device. If it proves successful, bathers will be safer and the local economy would benefit,” said Ald Walker.

On completion of the trial, long term implementation would require prior Environmental Authorization in terms of the National Environmental Management Act.

The trial installation of an exclusion net within the confines of a research permit does not require public consultation. A public process will nonetheless be conducted for Interested and Affected Parties to raise issues for consideration in order that the City can get the best sense of the public’s needs.

The deployment of an exclusion net, both as a trial research project as well as a potentially permanent feature, will have capital and operational costs for the City. As part of the trial the City will be investigating possible funding options.

The concept of installing an exclusion net at Fish Hoek Beach is not without risk. But based on intensive research, the City believes that this course of action is possible and practical.

With the appropriate resources, training and daily management, the exclusion net would have minimal ecological impacts, would detract little from the sense of place of Fish Hoek Beach, would in relative terms be a cost effective option, and be in the public interest.

“It is likely to have significant social and economic benefits for the Fish Hoek area, and would meet the needs of the City’s perspective of implementing safety measures that meet the needs of our communities while not negatively impacting on our rich marine environment,” said Ald Walker.

The South Peninsula Subcouncil (19) will shortly be considering a proposal to take the first steps to begin a trial of shark exclusion nets in the southern section of Fish Hoek beach. If the South Peninsula Subcouncil approves the proposals the City will then make an application to the National Department of Environmental Affairs for a research permit, allowing the trial to go ahead.

If the approvals application and the trial is successful, the exclusion net will offer a potential long term option for increased bather safety, at limited or no risk to the marine environment.
In considering the use of the exclusion nets the City needs to balance the impact on the local Fish Hoek community:

  • of the perception of it as an unsafe swimming area due to regular shark sightings resulting in bathers being kept out of the water;
  • the impact that this has on local businesses, especially the tourism industry;
  • the need to protect the natural environment which is a unique marine asset; and
  • the need to be aware of and respectful of the current trek net rights at Fish Hoek Beach and the importance of these rights to the livelihoods of a number of people. As such the City will work with the rights holders to ensure minimal impact on those rights should the exclusion net proceed.

If the proposal meets all of the necessary requirements the project is anticipated to be implemented on a trial basis in October 2012.

Shark attacks fishing boat

Cape Town – A great white shark attacked an inflatable fishing boat off Strandfontein in the Western Cape, IOL reported on Tuesday.

“I was less than an arm’s length away from the shark and all I could see were its giant rows of teeth,” one of the passengers, Graham Claasen, was quoted as saying.

“It was horrific. I thought the boat would sink.”

Claasen was one of five passengers and two owners aboard the boat, which was anchored about 2km out to sea when the shark attacked.

The crew were fishing for smooth hound sharks, which great whites prey on. One of the passengers had pulled a smooth hound onto the boat when the great white took hold of the side of the boat.

The damaged boat, with a gash of about half-a-metre long, drew much attention at Kalk Bay harbour on Monday. A number of the shark’s teeth were found in the hull.

The shark was estimated to be about 7m long and its teeth between 5cm and 6cm long.

Policy update in Ozzie Shark Cage Diving

- from Matt Waller, owner of Adventure Bay Charters, the company in Oz pioneering the alternatives of using sound versus chum to attract the Great Whites.


Just thought I would keep you up to date with the current licensing issues going on here in South Australia. The government has now released the new policy which has put us in the same category as “chumming and baiting” sharks and will therefore cut licenses from 4 to 2. They have however increased the access days to 260 which seems strange as this is more than current access and it was clear in the study that frequent access by shark operators had changed shark behaviour. In reality we will probably not receive a licence and therefore the only option will be aggressive shark cage diving with the use of berley! Seems very strange in a society which should be encouraging an eco friendly, low impact option!

Have a great day and love your work!




Another shark fatality in Port St Johns, now most dangerous beach

15 January 2012

Note: It is our personal opinion that the Port St John’s attacks are most likely not related to Great Whites or chumming, but wish to add the info as it is related content, and certainly cause for concern. – Justin Othersurfa

A 25-year-old man, Lungisani Msungubali, was killed by a shark at Port St Johns Second beach on Sunday, the Eastern Cape health department said. This comes a year to the day that young surfer, Zama, was killed at the same beach.

“This afternoon a swimmer from Port St Johns was attacked by a shark and struggled with it for about five minutes using his surf board,” said spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo.

“A surfer who was next to him during the ordeal described the swimmer as being brave by fighting it. Unfortunately it injured him severely in both arms and in the chest,” he said.

A second eyewitness raised the alarm for other swimmers to leave the water.

“A doctor who was amongst the swimmers tried to save his life along with paramedics who arrived at the beach. The man died on the way to a local health centre.”

“Second beach is notorious for shark attacks and I am told that there is no [shark] net there,” said Kupelo.


PORT St Johns’s notorious Second Beach now has the worst shark attack record in South Africa , according to the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board (KNSB).

“Over the past four years, Second Beach has had an increase in shark attacks, making it the worst in the country,” KNSB chairman Geremy Cliff said yesterday .

Cliff and board officials visited the area yesterday following the fatal shark attack on Lungisani Msungubali on Sunday.

The delegation of five met with Port St Johns mayor Mnyamezeli Mangqo, the municipality’s engineering manager Onke Sopela and municipal spokeswoman Nonceba Madikizela to give a report on shark attacks recorded so far.

The KNSB members also met with one of the lifeguards, Nqobile Jojo, who witnessed Sunday’s attack, which now forms part of the study being undertaken by the KNSB.

The board has been commissioned by the national Environmental Affairs Department to investigate the large shark community in Port St Johns to understand what sort of species and circumstances caused the attacks.

Cliff said in previous cases the attacks were confined to the summer months between January and March, which was the most problematic time of the year.

He said most of the previous attacks in Port St Johns were caused by Zambezi sharks, also known as bull sharks. It was suspected the same species attacked Msungubali.

Cliff said Zambezi sharks were attracted to the Port St Johns area because of the large Umzimvubu River , which they used as a breeding ground .

“Zambezi sharks like coastal waters. The females come down to drop their young ones here in Umzimvubu River; they live in rivers because that’s where they feed.”

He said that could be one of the reasons why there were lots of Zambezi sharks in the area and most attacks took place in summer because they liked the warm water.

Although the board had for years been toying with an idea of installing shark nets to halt further attacks, yesterday it became clear this was out of the question for Second Beach.

KNSB chief scientist Sheldon Dudley said nets had a negative impact on the environment and were therefore not suitable for Port St Johns.

He said they were reducing the nets in KwaZulu-Natal.

At this stage Dudley said they could not say what the best solution for the problem would be, but people needed to take precautions.

“Risks of attacks are high when the water is dirty because the sharks cannot see anything but can sense through smell and movements.”

Dudley said it would take the team two weeks to confirm what sort of shark attacked Msungubali .

Mayor Mnyamezeli Mangqo said Second Beach was closed to the public and would be opened after KNSB completed their study.

‘Nelson Mandela Bay (PE) urges fishing ban amidst chumming concerns’

9 December 2011

Courtesy Rob Munro

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (Port Elizabeth) is currently considering an urgent ban on fishing close to recreational beaches after it became apparent that chumming, a custom of throwing cut-up fish in the sea to catch sharks, is take place close to surfing, paddling and swimming areas. The Municipality’s Beach Office recommended a ban on angling from Kings Beach (Southern) Harbour Wall to Flat Rock (Beacon) and other beaches located 500m away from lifeguard demarcated bathing areas, such as Bluewater Bay, St Georges Strand, Brighton Beach and Wells Estate. Wild Side beaches such as Maitlands, Blue Horizon Bay and Van Stadens River Mouth are also included. A public participation process will be started as soon as possible to ensure that all stakeholders have an opportunity to give input and direction on this matter. However, this does not mean that a complete ban on fishing will be implemented, since angling will still be allowed from Beacon down towards Willows, Shoenmakerskop and outside bathing areas where lifeguards are on duty. A decision was also taken that chumming or fishing close to recreational facilities will be monitored closely with CCTV footage to ensure compliance.

‘The Butterfly Effect – Ripple effects of the Great White Shark’

1 November 2011

By Alan van Gysen / Zigzag

When I was 16 years old I won the annual Fish Hoek Mile swim. I was a Fish Hoek junior lifesaver at the time, and the 1.5 km swim across the bay from Clovelly to Sunnycove was a regular item on the training schedule for competitive swimmers in the team. Another was swimming out and around The Tudor House buoy some 200 metres out in the bay. Not forgetting the many surf sessions I lived for on weekends at Clovelly Wedge and out in front of the Silvermine River. It’s where I caught my first foamy, where I learnt to be ocean savvy as a grom, learnt the fine art of bodysurfing, and where I learnt to save lives. I literally grew up in the water and on the beach of Fish Hoek. Today you wouldn’t dream of swimming out into the bay, let alone swim across it with just your speedo on.

With all the speculation and sensationalism surrounding the great white sharks these days, it is easy to get caught up in the negative and frightening elements surrounding these imposing creatures. Sure they are dangerous, and as an apex predator that has survived millennia they should be respected and revered, but let’s not hate, despise and want to kill them. What we need is a plan, one that protects both humanity and nature, and brings about an innate balance we can both flourish in.

How many of you have stopped to consider how rich False Bay has become over the past 15 years? And I’m not talking about the millionaire houses that pepper Boyes Drive. It wasn’t until I spoke to freediver and Adventurer, Hanli Prinsloo the other night, that I began to appreciate and accept a simpler and more natural reason for the increase in recent shark activity. “We have one of the richest and most dynamic marine reserves in the world” Hanli points out. “Life in the bay has flourished since it became a reserve in 1998. 15-20 years ago, the Great White shark was on the brink of extinction, but since it became a protected species, it has flourished in the safety of False Bay.”

And it is not just the shark population that has thrived. “I’ve never seen bait balls like I did this year” points out Brandon Kilbride; surfer, paddler and lifeguard at Fish Hoek Lifesaving club. “It was like having the East Coast sardine run, but permanently in the bay between March and September!” Paddlers often report seeing pods of dolphin 50-1000 strong, and even watched on in awe as a pod of killer whales made their way past the St. James tidal pool recently. False Bay is alive and abundant with marine life, so it only makes sense that there are more great whites than normal, and that these sharks and others will on occasion find themselves closer to our shores in search of food. Unfortunately it is during these shallow-water visits that the unthinkable can and sometimes does happen.

Like a pebble being dropped into the ocean, dramatic events like these have a profound ripple effect on more than just the people immediately involved.

Most disturbing is the drop in participation in aspirational watersports like surfing, lifesaving and paddling, and the subsequent loss of income for all those businesses connected. Owner of The Surf Shack in Muizenberg, David Chudleigh, reports a 50% decrease in surf school attendance and correlating income, comparing figures to that of 2006. World-renowned paddler, Dawid Mocke, has seen a 60% loss in numbers for his surf ski school at Fish Hoek, and has had to relocate to Simons Town. Dawid uses False Bay more than any one person I can think of, bar perhaps Kalk Bay Reef diehard Andrew Wilsnagh, spending on average four hours every day in or on the water. “It has become increasing difficult to train, and has definitely been on my mind more lately” reflects Dawid. For a man who relies so heavily on the safe use of Fish Hoek and False Bay, the ripples effects of the great white sharks have definitely hit him hard. But amazingly, or perhaps just because he is Dawid Mocke, he remains positive and optimistic. “Naturally the “real” risk factor has increased which is of concern, but it is the “perceived” risk that is exponentially higher due to media hype that is most worrying for us,” he explains. “But on the positive side, when has Fish Hoek ever received so much attention? With over a million You Tube hits, Fish Hoek is on the map more than ever. Hopefully we can use this to our advantage through tourism, but in a responsible and environmentally conscious way. More importantly, we as South Africans are leading the field in global environmental protection and awareness of the great white shark,” explains Dawid. He ends off on a chilling note though, stating: “It is almost impossible to surf at Fish Hoek these days.”

Fish Hoek lifesaving club has been equally hard hit, recording a 25% drop in lifesaving attendance, and finds itself unable to train or host competitions due to the high number of shark sightings. These in turn dramatically affect its earning potential, and effectiveness as a lifesaving club. Fish Hoek Lifesaving club is one of the leading lifesaving clubs in South Africa and the world, with scores of national and international accolades gracing engraved trophies and bronzed plaques throughout the clubhouse. What does the future hold for this respected and much needed lifesaving club? How much will the City of Cape Town lose from the decrease in tourism this summer at Fish Hoek Beach? How much will small businesses lose across the board? Where do we go from here?

It was questions like these that recently had affected parties meeting at Fish Hoek Lifesaving. Heads of Fish Hoek Lifesaving, NSRI, Shark Spotters, SPCA, Cape Town City Council, Fish Hoek Ratepayers, representatives from ‘Surfers for Responsible Shark Cage Diving’, members of the surfing and paddling community, and ocean entrepreneurs met to discuss viable, sustainable and eco-friendly options moving forward. The mood of the meeting was positive, with some very constructive suggestions being put forward. Ideas like a tidal pool on Fish Hoek beach for bathers and pressurising operators of the controversial shark cage diving industry to fund research.

Paul Botha, who has been involved with public relations in surfing for decades, was among the group. He had the following the say: “This (shark problem) does not affect the hardcore surfer so much as the general public and weekend surfer. Hardcore surfers have the option of surfing more advanced spots with less sharks. But the basic premise is that we do have a big problem on our hands. The Shark Spotter program is a good start, but Council needs to properly fund them, and invest some real money into research and prevention. I just feel that Council have not been proactive enough in tackling this.”

Paul proposes having a rapid response team available on standby for shark sightings close to our beaches. The team would deploy their 4×4 and jetski upon notification by the shark spotters, and proceed to identify the shark, before “buzzing” him out of the area. Accordingly to experts, great whites sharks are easily identifiable, and resent studies have indicated 250-280 individual great white sharks operating in the False Bay area. “If we can gather more information on which sharks are in the area consistently, perhaps we can even learn if certain individual sharks are actively after humans. We could then decide what to do from there. If there is even one, there is a case to be made (for more direct action).”

Paul ended off with reiterating the fact that we need council to properly fund a shark program in Cape Town. “Durban has an entire infrastructure in place for shark activity and monitoring. With all due respect, what do we have? A few whistles and some coloured flags.”

The damning Aussie Govt Study on effects of chum + Great White Sharks

31 October 2011

The effects of berleying on the distribution and behaviour of white sharks, Carcharodon carcharias, at the Neptune Islands, South Australia, August 2011

Research Summary

A study by Barry Bruce and Russell Bradford of the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources South Australia

Cage diving at Neptune Islands

Seas and sealions (pinnipeds) form part of a white shark’s annual diet, and sharks may spend from days to months per year at pinniped colonies. Between these visits they travel to other locations seeking other sources of prey. They can swim thousands of kilometres, from temperate to tropical waters, and across the open ocean during these annual travels.

Pinniped colonies that are regularly visited by white sharks can be ideal for shark-viewing tourism. White shark cage diving activities are established near to such pinniped colonies in South Africa, Mexico, California and Australia.

In Australia, white shark cage diving occurs only at the Neptune Islands Group Marine Park (60–70 km south of Port Lincoln, South Australia) comprising the North and South Neptune Islands.These islands host Australia’s largest pinniped aggregation.

Commercial tour operators involved in white shark cage diving must be licensed under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 and, if berleying to attract sharks, must have an exemption under the Fisheries Act 1982.

Berleying practices

In South Australia, shark cage diving provides an opportunity to view white sharks in their environment.The sharks are commonly attracted to the viewing vessel through the use of berley (chum), a mix of chopped or minced fish and fish oil. Berleying attracts sharks that are already present in the area to the shark cage-dive vessel and increases the chances of a shark being seen.

Increased frequency of berleying

The shark cage diving industry has worked under a Code of Practice since 2004 to ensure that its operations minimise negative impacts on sharks. Permit requirements also restrict the type of berley than can be used to fish-based products only and these products must be kept refrigerated prior to use.

Days of berleying activity in the SA shark-cage diving industry had remained reasonably stable at an annual average of 128 days from 2000 to 2007. However, the number of days of berleying activity at the Neptune Islands significantly increased after 2007, reaching 270 days in 2009–2010. Berleying activity increased over this time both within the main bay at North Neptune Island and at a second site outside of the bay.

This increase in berleying activity has caused some concern as wildlife tourism that attracts or rewards the target animals, such as through provisioning (feeding), can cause changes in behaviour.Worldwide experience suggests that such changes in behaviour, if they occur, can often have negative consequences for the target animal.

Increasing interest from potential new operators to enter the SA shark cage dive industry combined with concerns regarding the potential for negative impacts on sharks from berleying operations, prompted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Primary Industries and Resources South Australia (PIRSA) to set research on the impact of berleying on shark behaviour at the Neptune Islands as a high priority. Such research was also consistent with objectives under the National recovery plan for white sharks as a listed threatened species under Australia’s Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

White shark research at the North Neptune Islands

The North Neptune Islands is a key site for many white sharks in Australian waters and have been the focus of CSIRO-based research on white shark movement patterns, behaviour and habitat use since 1993.

Sharks tagged with electronic tags (satellite, archival and acoustic) have been tracked from the Neptune Islands to Exmouth in north-western Western Australia and to Rockhampton in central Queensland. Sharks tagged with other (non-electronic) tags at The Neptune Islands have also crossed theTasman Sea to New Zealand.

A 2001–2003 CSIRO study at the North Neptune Islands found that the level of berleying at that time had a localised and short-term effect on the distribution and behaviour of sharks and that the effects were concentrated in the bay of the main island where most berleying and shark cage diving activities occurred. Having the results of this initial study provided an opportunity to examine if white shark behaviour had changed at the North Neptune Islands since the 2007 increase in berleying effort.

Acoustic monitoring study: 2010–2011

The purpose of the 2010–2011 study was to see if there had been any changes in the amount of time (residency) white sharks spent at the Neptune Islands since the previous study in 2001–2003 and if there had been any changes in their movement patterns or behaviour.The 2010–2011 study observed the movements of 21 tagged white sharks ranging from 2.8 metres to 4.8 m.  The sharks were tagged with acoustic transmitters each of which produces a unique signal that can be identified by moored acoustic receivers.

The presence/absence of individual tagged sharks was monitored by arrays of acoustic receivers at both the North and South the Neptune Islands from December 2009 to April 2011.These receivers were removed at the end of the study so that the data they collected could be examined.These were complemented by monitoring data from a single satellite- linked acoustic receiver maintained inside the main bay at the North Neptune Islands since 2008.The satellite linked receiver automatically sends information on sharks present in the bay each week to researchers at CSIRO in Hobart. Daily logbook records of shark cage dive operator activities from 1999–2011 were also used in the analysis to identify when operators were present and to monitor the number of sharks sighted each day.

Acoustic receivers identical to those used in this study also form a network of stations around the Australian coast as part of the Commonwealth Government funded Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS).The acoustic receivers form part of the Australian AnimalTracking and Monitoring System (http://imos.org.au/aatams.html) and allow researchers to monitor the long- term movements of tagged sharks after they leave the Neptune Islands.

The tagging procedure

Acoustic tags were attached to a small stainless steel arrow head by a short tether. Sharks were attracted to the vessel using fish-based berley and tags were attached externally to each shark as they swam past by using a tagging pole.

What did the monitoring reveal?

General shark movements

As seen in previous research, white sharks tagged during the study were found to be temporary residents of the Neptune Islands. Despite berleying, sharks continue to arrive and leave the Neptune Islands. As in previous years, the number of sharks present at any one time was highly variable.There were some periods when no sharks were present.These patterns are probably driven by differences in the ocean conditions between years and seasons.

Increased berleying has not led to sharks taking up patterns of permanent residency and sharks left the Neptunes Group for other destinations across their Australian range during the study period. For example, three tagged sharks were detected by acoustic receivers moving through south-western Western Australia after leaving the Neptune Islands during the course of the study.

When resident to the Neptune Islands area, some sharks made return transits between the North and South Neptune Islands which are 12 km apart. This occurred regardless of berleying activity and appears to be normal behaviour for sharks in this area.

Changes in shark behaviour

Despite sharks continuing to arrive and depart the Neptune Islands during berleying periods, the 2010-2011 study identified some significant changes in shark behaviour at the North Neptune Islands since berleying effort and regularity increased in 2007.

These changes in behaviour were not observed at the South Neptune Islands where berleying effort has not markedly changed since 2007.

The study found the following changes in the way sharks used the Neptune Islands:

  1. The average amount of time (residency period) that individual sharks spend at the North Neptune Islands has increased from 11 days in 2001- 2003 to 21 days in 2010-2011.
  2. The average number of consecutive days (visits) spent at North Neptune Island during residency periods has increased from 2 days in 2001-2003 to 6.5 days in 2010-2011.
  3. The average number of sharks seen by operators has increased from 2.2 per day prior to 2007 to 3.4 per day after 2007.This does not mean that the abundance of sharks has increased but reflects that they are staying for longer periods and that each individual is seen more often.
  4. The daily movements of sharks has changed to more closely match the arrival and departure of shark cage dive operators, so that now sharks arrive in the berleying areas at about the time operators arrive and leave the area after the operators leave.This pattern now occurs on days where operators are present and also on days when they are not present.

Why is it important to take notice of these changes?

These observations all suggest that berleying operations have changed the way sharks use the environment at the North Neptune Islands.

At present, there is no evidence to suggest that these changes have been harmful to the sharks or that they may lead to changes in their behaviour at any other location. Many of the sharks also visited South Neptune Island and their behaviour at that site was not significantly different to the behaviour of sharks in the 2001–2003 study.

Understanding the impacts of such changes is complicated because each shark is only a temporary visitor to the Neptune Islands and thus is only exposed to berleying for the short time they are there. Also, although berleying provides an attraction for sharks, by itself it provides no reward in the form of food. Small ‘teaser’ baits used by operators to lure sharks closer to the vessel offer some form or reward but this is small compared to the source of natural prey in the area.

Research in other areas of the world has identified that a variety of problems can occur where marine wildlife has been attracted for tourism purposes. For white sharks and their environment at the Neptune Islands, this may include increased aggression between sharks if more sharks remain on site, distraction by tourism activities resulting in fewer opportunities to feed on seals and sealions, changes in predation pressure on seals and sealions, sharks provisioning on a food source (teaser baits) that is not as nutritious as their natural prey and increasing the abundance of fish life that can feed on the small particles that make up berley. These problems can lead to unintentional impacts on the overall health of sharks and to changes in the ecology of the area.

White sharks are a listed threatened species and protected in Australian waters. Minimising identified impacts on them and the environment within which they reside is important, particularly when the implications of such impacts are unknown.

In the case of shark cage diving, all parameters measured in this study suggest that berleying operations have changed the way sharks use the area at the North Neptune Islands. Reducing the impacts of these operations on sharks is thus important to ensure that there are no long-term negative effects on sharks visiting this area or the marine ecosystem of the region.

The challenge for government agencies and the SA industry will be to reduce the impact of shark cage diving on sharks and the ecosystem while maintaining a world-class diving experience that contributes significantly to the local economy and provides a platform for education, research and conservation. Achieving this balance has the potential to provide a benchmark for managing cage-diving tourism worldwide.


The study makes the following recommendations:

Reduce berleying/provisioning effort

The current level of berleying should be reduced, or at least capped, to minimise further behavioural changes.‘Teaser’ baits should be of a minimum size required to be effective and all reasonable efforts should be made to minimise the number of baits taken by sharks.

On-going monitoring of shark behaviour

Shark residency periods, duration of visits and daily patterns of movements should continue to be monitored to evaluate the sharks’ response to any mitigation actions and enable feedback to managing agencies and industry to ensure such actions are effective.

The most cost-effective monitoring approach would be to maintain the satellite-linked receiver at the North Neptune Islands and to continue to tag sharks with acoustic tags. Additional satellite receivers should be installed at the second berleying site at the North Neptune Islands and at South Neptune Island, (the latter to compare shark behaviour).

Education and awareness program 

The shark cage dive industry in South Australia should be provided with educational material for clients that explains:

  • shark ecology, movements and conservation
  • the risks posed to sharks by excessive berleying or provisioning;
  • the importance of minimising the impact of shark cage diving on sharks and the environment; and
  • the industry and management actions used to achieve this.

-courtesy Rob Munro

Campaign update: Big steps forward

24 October 2011

Well done to Zigzag for representing surfers!

The last month has seen an incredible amount of Press relating to Shark Cage Diving with Chum, due in part to the unfortunate incident at Fish Hoek beach last month involving a British national. A study by the Oz Government confirming the link between chumming and behaviour modification, and their subsequent culling of their own small SCD industry has also had a major impact.

We have had numerous journalists from the UK, US and SA contacting us for comment. Add this to a feature in the Big Issue (big up Clayton Truscott), and plenty of copy in SA’s number one surfmag ZigZag. A special big-up to Will Bendix, the hard-serving editor in chief of the Zag. Will has held a very objective point of view regarding the issue, and after much research has had the cajones to write a thought-provoking ‘personal perspective’ on chum, sharks and surfers, in SA’s most read surf publication. Respect!

On the think-tank side of things we are uber stoked to welcome an Honours Ecology student, environmental activist and surfrider, we’ll call her Justine Othersurfa for now. Justine is helping us put together a White Paper with the purpose to have a few key lines of Legislation ammended, and this will form a major breakthrough in how responsibly the Cage Dive operations run. Basically the first phase in our ECO plan mentioned earlier. There is a huge amount of research and documentation required to put the paper together in the correct format, and while the surf is down if any of our members out there have a spare hour and want to contribute this is how you can also help;

We are collecting as much statistical data as possible on;

- Great White Shark tourism

- Legislation regarding Baboons and feeding

- Any info relating to ECO’s (Environmental compliance Officers) and commercial use of Nature areas

You can email any docs/pdfs/stats to justanothersurfer@surfersagainstsharkcagediving.com

The website is generating a steady increase in traffic, averaging over a 1000 visits a month, and Facebook friends are increasing by around 2 a week. This should be more, as we are all affected. Get your surfer friends onboard and suggest Justin Othersurfa as a friend.

Our last batch of TShirts flew out, and we are in the process of ordering a new print-run. We’d like to get as many orders together to save on admin. T’s are a measly R60, good quality and a good cause.

Best feedback of late, courtesy Cape Town screw-foot Alan Robb;
” Look how attacks affect local business… shark spotting landlubbers may have been clogging the road at certain places along the Berg to Fish Hoek drag, but with the beaches closed after the last incident, I will bet a lot less people spent money in the area. Newspapers were sold, advertisers scrambled into position, but on the whole, people lost out. With international studies showing that chumming is not a beneficial interference by man, when will the money-making practices of shark cage diving operators be brought to a halt for the greater good? Phew!”

That’s it for now, watch this space!

Living With Sharks

7 October 2011

Can we co-exist with our ocean’s apex predators? Researcher Alison Kock examines our relationship with sharks.

“We are not afraid of predators, we’re transfixed by them, prone to weave stories and fables and chatter endlessly about them, because fascination creates preparedness, and preparedness, survival. In a deeply tribal way, we love our monsters…” E.O. Wilson, sociobiologist

Cape waters are home to one of the largest concentrations of great white sharks in the world. Fossil records, like the discoveries of preserved teeth found on the Cape flats, reveal their presence here for thousands of years. The earliest records of interactions between people and sharks in Cape Town are more than 100 years old. More recently research tells us that areas like False Bay are most likely critical habitats for the South African population, meaning the sharks depend on this area for their survival.  But, surviving on the doorstep of a major city, with a population of 3.5 million people, may just be the biggest problem these animals have to face.

Sharks have problems too

Great white sharks are without a doubt one of the most successful predators on the planet, but one of nature’s most triumphant designs did not factor in the negative impacts that humans, in the role of a dominant species, can have on them. As apex predators, sharks sit atop the food chain and with no natural enemies, shark numbers are designed to be low. Ironically, given their rule over the sea, this means they are particularly vulnerable to the way human’s fish and sometimes over-fish. Sharks are designed to mature slowly (taking up to 15 years), and produce few successful young (every two to three years).  In areas where their populations have been depleted they are slow to recover to natural numbers.

The great white is fully protected in seven countries, including South Africa.

Due to evidence of declining white shark populations around the world, these sharks are afforded some of the highest protections of any fish in the sea. Today, the great white is fully protected in seven countries, including South Africa. International conventions also protect the great white, with listings on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS), and in the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The authority on which species face the most likely path to extinction, the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, identifies white sharks as globally “Vulnerable”. The message from the international community is great white sharks are at risk of extinction.
Why do we need great whites at all?

Great whites keep the ocean balanced.

Great whites keep the ocean balanced. They feed on a variety of animals including numerous species of fish (in Cape Town those include yellowtail, steenbras and cob), other sharks (smooth hounds and guitar sharks), marine mammals (seals) and they even scavenge on dead whales. Furthermore, great whites are often the primary, and sometimes only, predators of some of the larger prey animals like seals. This means that there is a cascading effect in the ocean between the way sharks keep a balance of their prey and the hundreds of different species that are impacted (ecological dominoes if you will), and thus play vital roles in ecosystem function and biodiversity. Furthermore, studies around the world are increasingly highlighting the important role that sharks play. Without sharks, economically important fisheries have closed and there are losses to eco-tourism ventures, particularly important in countries dependent on tourism.  Moreover, great white sharks are now celebrated as one of our “Big Seven”. They are an iconic species and a feature of our local and natural heritage, which we have a duty to preserve.

Shark nets, hunts and culling

Human-wildlife conflicts are difficult, but nothing new in Africa. Despite this, Africans have a proud history of dealing with this and respecting nature, and it is thus surprising to me that people still ask why we can’t just go out and kill the shark responsible.

Leading conservation managers from around the world advocate that we look for solutions to human-wildlife conflicts that provide a balance between human needs and that of our natural assets. Culling programmes like the implementation of shark nets (which are gill nets designed to catch and kill sharks), drumlines, shark hunts and other extractive methods go hand-in-hand with high environmental costs. These traditional approaches to human-wildlife conflicts are increasingly being criticized on the world stage as being out-dated, and short-sighted. New Zealand took down its shark nets this year and a local professor stated, “The notion that we need to kill any animal that might place us at risk when we enter the water is a totally unacceptable attitude in the modern world.” California and Florida also face the same kinds of issues we do and they have refused shark nets.

“The notion that we need to kill any animal that might place us at risk when we enter the water is a totally unacceptable attitude in the modern world.”

If we’d like to see what happens when top predators are removed, we only need to look to what has happened on land: one of the best examples comes from the western U. S. where gray wolf populations were hunted to local extinction, which resulted in negative cascading effects throughout the ecosystem and a subsequent re-introduction of wolves was needed to attempt to regain the balance between predators and their prey.

Above and beyond this, shark hunts or “selective culling” are scientifically proven to be ineffective at capturing the shark responsible or reducing shark-human encounters. A good example is Hawaii, where a shark control program ran in different parts of the state for years, costing thousands of dollars, and concluded that it was not reducing the rate of shark bites. Instead, we see taxpayer funds spent often to placate the public rather than find workable, long-term solutions.

The Save Our Seas Foundation opposes the implementation of shark nets, shark hunts or culling by other means. Shark nets have been declared a “key threatening process” by international bodies because they catch marine life indiscriminately. This includes endangered white sharks, turtles, dolphins and whales. In Cape Town, these methods would be particularly devastating because these waters are a natural gathering spot (in science-speak it’s called an “aggregation area”) for sharks. What this means is that shark nets and hunts have the potential to deplete Cape Town’s regional shark populations. These concerns are strongly supported by leading shark scientists from around the world.

Mindless killers?

Great white sharks, like all animals, are individuals with individual behaviours and characteristics. As the largest of predatory fish, reaching six meters, they don’t have much to fear and are confident and curious animals. They have large brains and display complex hunting and social behaviour. Great whites are not mindless feeding machines and are selective in what they eat, often preferring high calorific food, like blubber, over muscle. They are capable of migrating thousands of kilometers across ocean basins; only to return months later to the exact area they were last recorded. They are equally as capable of residing in one area for months at a time and timing their arrival at seal colonies to predate on naïve seals. But, great whites don’t just travel and swim around searching for food, they also hang out with one another, interact with other ocean creatures like whales, and spend time simply taking a rest from it all. For example, our research team once tracked a shark for 24 hours non-stop and all it did was swim at the surface, mingle with other white sharks in the area and swim slowly in a circle no more than 2 km ² (Check out the Google track). In Fish Hoek recently the sharks have displayed a combination of all of these behaviours.
That great whites have always been in the Cape is without question, however, we need to remember that our oceans are dynamic ecosystems and constantly changing. Animals respond to their external environment and some of these responses include distributional changes. Great whites will respond favourably to an abundance of natural prey, as it makes them easier to catch, like they do by timing their movements to co-incide with the abundance of naïve seals over the winter time. Spring and summer offer schools of steenbras, yellowtail and bottom dwelling sharks, genuine great white favourites. Even over the short period of our research we have distinguished that not all years are equal. We have noted inter-annual changes in the numbers of sharks using the bay, differences in arrival and departure times and differences in the amounts of time they use the bay. Reaching over 45 years old there are cycles in regional and local movement patterns which we don’t fully understand yet. But we are learning more than ever before and this will help us educate bathers and recreational water users.

There isn’t a shred of evidence to support the rogue shark theory.

One thing we do know is that reality and fiction of shark behavior is tested following shark attacks. If you are an avid monster movie watcher like me then you know all about rogue animals. But, the reality is that there isn’t a shred of evidence to support the rogue shark theory. In fact, the more we learn about sharks, the more the rogue shark theory only survives as part of a B-grade movie. The recent incident in Fish Hoek continues to punch holes in the theory. Shark Spotters recorded great whites in Fish Hoek bay everyday for four days in a row leading up to the tragic incident in Clovelly corner. Up to three different sharks were seen at one time in the area. Quite simply, they are being drawn to this particular area at this time because the area itself fulfils a specific requirement, not the people. The region provides an abundance of natural prey, but is also possibly an area to rest, travel through or socialize in. What we do know is that sharks are not coming to Fish Hoek for us.

In this most recent tragic case, the Shark Spotting system functioned well. Shark sighted, siren sounded, beach cleared, shark-presence flag flown. Many people got out the water and went to sit next to the spotters observing the sharks from above doing what sharks do naturally. Their behaviour described as swimming leisurely at the surface, or circling and even feeding in front of the Silvermine River mouth. At the time of the incident on the 28 September 2011 there were at least two sharks in the immediate area. Mr. Cohen entered the water under these conditions, swam about hundred meters parallel to shore on a collision course with an approaching great white. The behaviour described by the Shark Spotter Ashley Sullivan and eyewitness, Kyle James, suggests that the shark swam slowly around Mr. Cohen, swam up behind him and took a bite, before slowly swimming away.

This incident provides good evidence that in this case the shark made an exploratory bite, possibly investigating whether the swimmer was something to eat or not. While the bite inflicted severe damage, this is not the behavior that we see from sharks when they attack a seal or other prey. If we compare this to a recent video taken by Stuart Dawes, a resident of Noordhoek, two days after the incident one can clearly see the fast swimming, and repeated quick changes in direction of a great white chasing a Cape fur seal at the surface which we expect to see.

The reality of shark-human interactions

Great whites didn’t evolve into the successful predators they are today by randomly swimming around and ignoring unfamiliar objects.  Having spent thousands of hours studying them in Cape Town, tagging and tracking them, cataloguing which animals are present and how long they stay for, and even attaching small animal-borne cameras to them I am constantly amazed at how curious, opportunistic and investigatory they are. Their curiosity makes it all the more important to note how few shark-human interactions there are. We go into the water in large numbers and over long periods of time, yet shark bites on people are rare.

My parents fostered my respect of our oceans and its creatures and I recognize the enormous value sharks bring to our local region. But, at the same time, it would be irresponsible for those of us educating the public on the role of sharks, with specific reference to large predatory sharks, to portray them as harmless or to lose our respect for them as predators. A number of people have demonstrated that diving alongside great whites under specific conditions is possible which help break down the “maneater” stereotypes, however, it would be foolish to forget that great whites are formidable predators and potentially dangerous to people.

Into the future

Sharks live in the sea; therefore, as long as people enter the sea the two will encounter one another. Our relationship with sharks is a comparatively new one, unlike our relationship with land predators, and as a good friend said to me recently “the ocean seems to be getting smaller for all of us”. We need to learn from our mistakes on land, and look for innovative ways to reduce wild-life human conflict. Research and awareness are key components of a safety strategy, but it’s also essential that we keep our fingers on the pulse of potential new solutions which become available and continuously investigate and test workable and environmentally conscious ways of addressing the issue. The Save Our Seas Foundation is committed to staying informed of the technologies available and supporting projects that aim to find suitable solutions.

Finally, to answer the question on whether people and large sharks can co-exist; I believe we answer ‘yes’ to that question every day.

ALISON KOCK is the lead investigator of the white shark research programme in False Bay, a member of the Save Our Seas Foundation scientific committee, a doctoral student at the University of Cape Town completing a thesis on the behaviour and ecology of great white sharks and the scientific manager for the Cape Town based Shark Spotters programme.

The SAVE OUR SEAS FOUNDATION is committed to protecting our oceans by funding research, education, awareness and conservation projects focusing on the major threats to the marine environment. Furthermore, the Foundation is committed to playing a positive role in the global conservation of great white shark populations and currently supports six white shark projects around the world. http://saveourseas.com

The SHARK SPOTTERS programme is a pioneering shark safety programme that has attracted international and local attention because of the novel way it seeks to find a pro-active solution to shark-human conflict on the Cape Peninsula. http://www.sharkspotters.org.za

Another shark attack in Fish Hoek

28 September 2011


Swimmer ignores Shark Spotter warnings and is lucky to survive attack by 4-5m Great White at Clovelly Corner, Fish Hoek.

The City of Cape Town has released the official version of the shark attack yesterday, when Michael Cohen was critically injured while swimming off Fish Hoek beach. This well researched document contains facts and eye witness accounts.




As a result of the incident at Fish Hoek beach yesterday, 28 September. The City of Cape Town has compiled a report of the incident which is below for information:


At approximately 12.30 on Wednesday 28 September 2011, a 43 year old male, Mr. Michael Cohen was bitten and severely injured by a Great White Shark near Clovelly Corner, Fish Hoek beach while swimming. The victim sustained severe injuries which included the loss of his right leg and severe damage to his left foot.

The purpose of the review is to establish:

  • The facts and ensure that the correct information is provided to authorities as well as the public
  • Assess whether any reasonable actions could have been done to prevent the attack
  • Identify areas / aspects that need to be improved to reduce the chance of further attacks
  • Provide a detailed account of the events for the record

Shark Bite Details

The following account of the events leading up to the attack, the attack itself as well as the emergency response has been compiled based on interviews conducted on 28 September with all parties involved.

Although the accounts from various witnesses vary to some degree, as expected following a traumatic event, the following may be considered as an accurate description of the events leading up to as well as the shark bite and emergency response thereafter.

The Shark Spotters first sighted two Great White Sharks at 9.15. The alarm was sounded and the beach closed and the white flag raised. Once the sharks had moved back out the bay the Red Warning Flag was raised as per standard safety protocol.

At approximately 10.50 Shark Spotters re-sighted two Great White Sharks for the second time within Fish Hoek Bay. As per protocol the shark siren was again sounded, the beach cleared of swimmers and the shark flag raised. In both cases, sms notification of the sighting was distributed via the Disaster Risk Management (DRM) notification system.

At around 12.25 the mountain Shark Spotter saw a swimmer enter the water near the Clovelly Corner area. The spotter tried to sound the alarm, but due to a Eskom related city-wide electricity failure the alarm did not sound. The spotter notified his colleague on the beach as well as Monwabisi Sikweyiya, the Shark Spotting operations manager by radio. The beach spotter began to run toward Clovelly corner to warn the swimmer while Monwabisi drove to Clovelly corner.

Just after 12.25, according to eye witness Kyle James, a large shark casually and slowly approached the swimmer. At this point the swimmer was swimming parallel to the beach in a southerly direction just off the brown water emanating from the Silvermine River mouth. The shark approached the man from behind who was unaware of the sharks’ presence. The shark lunged for the swimmer, shook him once, then let go and moved off 5 to 10 metres away. Two beach goers, Mr. Douglas Drysdale, 61, from Glencairn Heights, and Mr Hugh Till, 66, from Fish Hoek entered the water and assisted Mr Cohen to shore. Before entering the water they called emergency services. At this time, Monwabisi Sikweyiya arrived on the scene and immediately began first aid measures. Monwabisi removed his own belt and applied it as a tourniquet, elevated the victim’s leg and removed his shorts, which he used to stem the blood loss. Monwabisi immediately called Mr Ian Kloppers of the NSRI and EMS services who initiated emergency response. A helicopter was dispatched while Monwabisi and the two rescuers stayed with and stabilised the victim. SMS notification of the attack was distributed to City officials and relevant authorities via the DRM notification system and City officials were alerted of the attack within 4 minutes of it occurring.

Once emergency services landed on the beach, the victim was stabilised further and medi-vacted by helicopter to Constantiaberg Hospital.

The manager of the Shark Spotting Programme was on site and coordinating a response within 5 minutes of the attack. City officials from Environmental Management, Sport Recreation and Amenities as well as from Law Enforcement were all on site within 20 minutes of the attack taking place. A scientist from the Shark Spotting Programme and Save Our Seas Shark Centre was on site within 20 minutes to record and collate information on the incident. Fish Hoek lifesaving club members were alerted to the attack within 10 minutes of the event taking place and launched their rescue rubber duck.

Actual Eye Witness Accounts

Ashley– Shark Spotter account

The man was swimming parallel to shore in front of the river outfall at the time of the incident, in shallow water no more than 50 meters from shore. There were two Great White Sharks in the vicinity, a smaller one about “2 – 3 meters” and a larger one “4 -5 meters”. The larger shark was swimming towards the swimmer on the inside of the swimmer between the swimmer and the shore in very shallow water. The second, smaller shark was a fair distance away from the swimmer. The shark swam past the swimmer into deeper water and made a large circle around him at a relaxed pace. The shark swam up behind the swimmer and then bit his legs. Contrary to preliminary reports of multiple bites, there was only one bite and then the shark released the man and swam away. At that stage Ashley stopped tracking the shark and concentrated on the swimmer and two rescuers who had entered the water. They pulled the man to shore where Monwabisi started administering first aid to the victim.

Kyle James – eyewitness walking by at the time of the incident

Kyle was walking from Kalk Bay to Clovelly when he saw a man swimming in Clovelly corner. He then saw a dark shadow about “3.5 – 4 meters” swimming slowly behind the swimmer. He recognised the dark shape as a shark. He describes the shark as swimming slowly up to the swimmer and when it was about 2 meters away it “jerked forward” biting the man on the legs. He described the shark raising slightly out of the water and giving one bite and then swimming slowly away again. He said the incident couldn’t have lasted more than 15 seconds. He describes the shark swimming slowly away and then pausing a few meters away from the victim. After the pause the shark kept on swimming slowly away. Kyle saw a seal (possibly two), close to the victim at the time of the incident and thought that the seal was “trying to help the man”. However, seals are highly equipped physically and behaviourally to avoid sharks. This observed behaviour is more likely explained by the seal avoiding the shark and using the man as a refuge like they do with kelp and other floating objects

Environmental conditions

At the time of the attack, seas were calm, visibility was good and the wind was blowing in a gentle south-westerly direction. The shark was visible to the spotter at all times since the first sighting of the day at 10.50.

Status of Equipment at the time of the attack

The following was verified through this review:

  • The shark alarm was in working order and had been sounded at 10.50
  • There was a general electricity outage at the time of the attack
  • All radios were in working order
  • The shark flag was flying
  • All general beach shark signage was in place and functional

General Information

The victim was known to the Shark Spotters and had previously repeatedly ignored verbal warnings by the spotters to adhere to the shark warnings and beach closures. The victim’s car was parked in the main parking area at Fish hoek beach indicating that he had accessed the beach from the well signposted area where the shark warning flag was flying. He had informed the car guards of where his car keys were hidden in the event that something happened to him. Victim was wearing navy blue swimming shorts and black goggles, and had bangles on one arm and a watch on the other. Victim was swimming between the shore and breakers (not behind breakers).

General awareness on Great White Shark seasonal migration inshore

As has become standard operation each year during August the City and its partners issues a media release reminding Capetonians of the expected seasonal increase in Great White Sharks closer to shore as they start to spend less time at the seal colony and more time inshore. The City and NSRI released the information on 29 August 2011. Following the release numerous radio, TV and print interviews were conducted to create awareness around the issue to better prepare sea water users.

History of shark attacks in Fish Hoek within last six years

Tyna Webb, fatal, November 2006
Lyle Maasdorp, no injury, surf-ski bitten, September 2008
Lloyd Skinner, fatal, January 2010

In the interest of public safety, it should be noted that in the case of Tyna Webb, Lloyd Skinner and Michael Cohen, shark warnings were in place prior to all of these events. Public adherence to shark warnings remains a constant challenge in preventing shark attacks.

Additional relevant information

Reports from staff indicate that members of the public continue to ignore shark warnings. Shark Spotters reported that on the morning of 28 September people in Fish Hoek were verbally abusive when asked to leave the water due to the shark sightings before the incident. The shark spotters report that there were members of the public who refused to leave the water at adjacent beaches after the incident when the beaches were officially closed. Adherence by the public to shark warnings remains a constant concern.

Shark sightings at Fish Hoek of the week leading up to 28 September 2011

24 September (Saturday): 3 shark sightings (10h26, 12h26, 14h47)
25 September (Sunday): 2 shark sightings (11h21, 12h18)
26 September (Monday): 1 shark sighting (09h29)
27 September (Tuesday): 1 shark sighting (15h36)

Shark behaviour before incident

Two sharks had been observed patrolling the inshore areas of Fish hoek since 09h15 on the morning of the incident. The water was clear and the sharks and their behaviour seen clearly. The shark spotter noted that the sharks were spending a lot of time in Clovelly corner near the river mouth and were swimming in “very shallow” water. The behaviour of the sharks was described as being relaxed. At some times they were close together and at other times far apart, but both spent a lot of time in the corner at Clovelly.

On previous days (Saturday, 24 September 2011 in particular) it was noted by the spotters and lifeguards that the sharks looked like they were feeding on something in the Clovelly area. Behaviour such as “thrashing” in shallow water were noted. Furthermore, on Saturday in particular, black-backed kelp gulls (> 30) were observed hovering over the sharks indicative of scavenging of prey remains. On both Saturday and Sunday the sharks also showed a lot of interest in floating pieces of kelp, often swam with their dorsal fins out of the water, and one shark was even described as spy-hopping. Their behaviour was generally described as slow patrolling.


1. Could the attack have been avoided within reasonable means?

It is the position of this review that all shark safety protocols had been followed:

  • shark spotters were on duty,
  • the beach had been closed and cleared at 10h50
  • the Great White Shark flag was flying, and
  • the Shark Spotters did everything possible to get to the man once they realised he had entered the water.

Mr. Douglas Drysdale and Mr. Hugh Till, the two rescuers who pulled Mr. Cohen from the water helped save his life and should be commended for their bravery. Further the actions and response by Monwabisi Sikweyiya following the attack which included:

  • Applying his belt as a tourniquet
  • Elevating the injured leg
  • Stemming the blood flow with his shirt
  • Contacting the NSRI for emergency medical response

should also be commended. Without this immediate, rational and professional response by Monwabisi Sikweyiya the victim more than likely would have bled to death on the beach.

2. Overall Findings

  • All shark warning protocols were followed by the shark spotters as required and stipulated throughout 28 September
  • The immediate, rational and professional response by Monwabisi Sikweyiya to the attack directly resulted in the victim surviving the attack
  • The brave actions of the two beach goers Mr Drysdale and Mf Till who pulled the victim from the water must be noted and commended
  • All emergency response and notification procedures worked. Officials were notified within minutes of the attack, officials were on site within 20 minutes and victim was stabilised and medi-vacted by helicopter to hospital within 40 minutes of the attack.
  • The only gap in the shark safety programme that could be noted was the general Eskom related electricity failure which meant the alarm could not be sounded again when the victim entered the water.

3. Recommendations

  • The Shark Spotting Programme should be commended for its compliance to all standard shark safety protocols during the day of 28 September. Lessons learnt from previous incidents have been applied and training has been effective in improving responses to these incidents. Follow-up first-aid and emergency training that staff have received since the previous incident in January 2010 was well applied, particularly in the speedy response of Monwabisi Sikweyiya.
  • The success, speed and effectiveness of the emergency response and notification system should be noted
  • The actions of Monwabisi Sikweyiya be noted and commended
  • The actions of Mr Drysdale and Mr Till be noted and commended
  • Back-up battery systems be provided to all shark alarms in the event of electricity outages
  • A designated swimming area at Fish Hoek beach be demarcated on a daily basis by the Lifesaving Club in consultation with the Shark Spotters. Lifesaving club and City Law Enforcement members to actively ensure that all bathers utilise this area. This information about a defined bathing area at Fish Hoek to be communicated via the media.

Fatal Attack on the Garden Route

24 August 2011

photo: jared aufrichtig

48-year-old Plett surfer, Tim van Heerden, has died after an unknown shark bit him at Keurbooms River Mouth at Lookout Beach, yesterday morning.

Van Heerden, a 48 yr old local from the area known for his craft in making Ugg boots, had lost lots of blood by the time he was pulled out of the water by fellow surfer Charles Reitz. According to reports, his leg was badly mauled and doctors desperately tried to save him on the way to ICU.

It is believed he was bitten in the groin area, and that his femoral artery was servered. Eye witness reports says that the shark looked like a two metre great white shark.

In an interview with Zigzag surfing magazine, Reitz said he had been watching the waves when he saw the shark take Van Heerden on the inside in small surf.

“He had lost all of his blood and his heart stopped twice on the rocks. The shark severed his femoral artery. Sea Rescue from Plett were on the scene quickly,” he told the Zag.

taken from Wavescape article “http://www.wavescape.co.za/breaking-news/breaking-news/plett-shark-attack.html”

Our hearts go out to the van Heerden family and friends of Tim, to Charles, Lloyd and Daryn who helped pull him from the water, and to all the folks on the beach who went through this tragic experience. Know that Tim died doing what he loved.

Isn’t it time the Plett community considered a Shark Spotter program like in Cape Town?
The sightings are very regular, and the lookout position is perfect for keeping an eye on things. Creating jobs and safer surfing, and preventing tragedies like this in areas with high surfer/shark density..

Wavescape gets on-board!

16 August 2011

Finally, we have one of SA’s major surf organisations, and SA’s top surf website, getting on-board and getting involved in the debate. A big shout out to Spike and Pierre Marqua at Wavescapes for taking the plunge. They are helping spread the message of needing to sort out the ‘cowboys’ in the industry, find sustainable alternatives and helping spread our research survey.

If you havent filled out your two cents, then do it right now!
SURVEY:: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/D8SYYKQ

read the Wavescape article here http://www.wavescape.co.za/breaking-news/breaking-news/sharks-dig-ac-dc.html

SASCD receives support from Anti-Chum operator Down Under

2 August 2011

Surfers For Responsible Shark Cage Diving – we’re on the same wave!

August 2nd, 2011 by Captain Adventure Bay Charters

“The only way for the local Shark Cage Dive operators to get a shark close enough to see underwater is with chum.No chum, no shark?But wait a minute!Chum- free Eco friendly Great White Shark Cage Diving is happening in Australia,using audio sound vibrationsto attract the world’s largest predatory fish, with ACDC being the Great Whites favourite music!! The benefits of using the sound vibration is that it is omnidirectional and instantaneous and completely eco friendly.”

Adventure Bay Charters (ABC) recently came across Anti Shark Cage Diving Website, Surfers For Responsible Shark Cage Diving (SASCD), a “wavelength of concerned oceanic awareness in response to the impact of the feeding/ baiting of Great White Sharks (carcharodon carcharias)… and the correlating drastic increase in shark attacks on humans that is taking place”.

You probably think this is a pretty strange group for us to want to become mates with since after all, shark cage diving is what we do!

SASCD was founded in order to a) protect the surfers and b) protect the Great White Sharks. SASCD’s aim is to represent the surfer / spearfishermen’s perspective of the possible impact of ‘chumming’ the water daily to attract Great White Sharks, to encourage people to have another look at how the Shark Cage Dive industry operates, and to put forward a sustainable solution to the issue. This is where we come in. Unlike other companies that are berlying/ baiting the sharks to the boat we are taking a more eco friendly approach. The fact that more than a dozen boats – worldwide are daily doing shark cage dives, throwing chum and other goodies into the water to attract the big Great White sharks. ABC has created the only berley free and advanced eco certified shark cage diving experience in Australia, attracting sharks with the use of sounds vibrations. Both ABC and SASCSD are passionate about educating people about the Great White Sharks and marine environment. SASCD believe (like most) that the Great White Sharks are attracted to people because they have been trained to come to boats by cage diving companies “feeding” the sharks… “It is really a common-sense issue, as it is quite obvious that repeated feeding of any animal by humans will reduce the animal’s fear of humans, whereby increasing the chance of attack.” what animal isn’t attracted to food?! What we believe is irrelevant in the scheme of things except to say that when we think there is no better way, progress stops. ABC is working on creating a more sustainable environment for the Great White Sharks by attracting the sharks with sound vibrations, rather that blood, berley and chum. In this process we are encouraging the Great Whites to behave in a way that they normally would in their natural environment. The sharks approach our cage out of curiosity after they sense the vibrations. Not one shark that has visited our boat has left in any way hurt, agitated and most importantly, aggressive. There are some other spin offs to this research, we may identify the best music not to play or even identify the best music to repel sharks, who knows, Justin Bieber may yet have a purpose!

In a town that has been labelled “the seafood capital of the world” and the primary fisheries support most working families and the community, work with us to support SASCSD to have our industry regulated and just enjoy the privilege of viewing them naturally as we would with any other great creature.

See the full article here

East London surfer attacked by shark

24 July 2011

UPDATE: Denver Struwig is in hospital and doing fine according to the night sister of his ward. Leave a get well comment for him at the end of article!

The attack occurred at Cinsta Beach with the victim, a 27 year old surfer called Denver Struwig, that was out surfing with his mates. He was bumped from his board, and sustained several lacerations to his right lower leg and left upper arm during the attack.

According to Craig Lambinon from NSRI, the surfer´s friends used his surfboard as floatation device and stretcher in the rescue effort and it was no doubt that their fast reaction and organization made a big difference in the situation. A private ambulance service responded to the call, and he is believed to be in a stable condition and was reported to be fully conscious and that the lacerations was not life threatening at the time.

It was also stated by Lambinon that the species of shark has not been identified.

The emergency was handled by Life St. Dominique’s hospital, and the victim has been referred to Life Beacon Bay for plastic surgery. He requested not to interface with media at the time, which is fully understandable. Heal well and see you in the water soon Denver.

Courtesy http://www.wavescape.co.za/breaking-news/breaking-news/east-london-shark-attack.html


Marine researchers in Mossel Bay had a narrow escape after a three-metre-long great white shark breached the surface of the sea and leapt into their boat, becoming trapped on deck for more than an hour.

Great white shark jumps from sea into research boat

21 July 2011
Scientists off South Africa’s Cape use crane and ropes to get disoriented half-ton shark back into sea

Marine researchers in Mossel Bay had a narrow escape after a three-metre-long great white shark breached the surface of the sea and leapt into their boat, becoming trapped on deck for more than an hour.

The incident occurred while the research team was conducting a shark population study off Seal Island, near Mossel Bay, on South Africa’s Cape coast.

Using sardines as bait to attract the predators, the seven-strong crew was able to observe four great whites. The animals are renowned locally for bursting through the surface as they prey on seals.

Dorien Schröder, team leader at Oceans Research, based at Mossel Bay, said that last Monday morning, after more than an hour of shark activity around the vessel, the Cheetah, the waters at the stern had been quiet for five minutes. “Next thing I know I hear a splash, and see a white shark breach out of the water from [the] side of the boat hovering, literally, over the crew member who was chumming [throwing food bait] on the port side,” she said.

Schröder recounted how she pulled her colleague to safety before the shark, weighing about 500kg (half a ton) landed on top of the bait and fuel containers. At first half of its body was outside the boat but in a panic the shark thrashed its way further on to the vessel, cutting the fuel lines and damaging equipment before becoming trapped between the containers and the stern. The crew found safety at the bow of the boat.

As Schröder poured water over the shark’s gills to keep it alive, another boat was sent out to the Cheetah. A rope from the second vessel was secured around the shark’s tail, but repeated efforts to tow the fish into the water failed.

The rescue ship then towed Cheetah to the port with the shark still on deck. A hosepipe was placed in the fish’s mouth to ventilate its gills, before it was lifted off the boat with a crane, then lowered back into the water.

Though the shark swam away it was unable to navigate its way out of the harbour and soon beached. With Oceans Research’s co-director, Enrico Gennari, an expert on great white sharks, the team tried unsuccessfully to “walk” the shark back to sea. Finally they tied ropes to the shark’s tail fin and behind its pectoral fin, and attached these ties to the rescue vessel, which towed the shark out through the harbour estuary. The ropes were then removed and the animal swam away.

Gennari said it was the first time he had heard of a great white shark jumping onto a research vessel. He estimated the predator would have had to have leapt about three metres out of the water to be able to land on the boat. A smaller vessel would have capsized, he said.

As for the cause of the shark’s behaviour, Gennari said it was almost certainly an accident rather than an attack on the boat. In the low-visibility water the fish could have mistaken the vessel’s shadow for prey, or been disturbed by another shark close by, he said.

“It’s all speculation,” he said. “But sometimes a shark breaches the surface when it feels another shark underneath it. They [move] like a flying fish and end up several metres away.”

courtesy guardian.co.uk and our friends at www.dawnpatrol.co.za

Well-written article in ZigZag surf magazine

29 June 2011

Kudos to Zigzag surf mag for (finally) getting involved in the chummy debate. We’d like to congratulate editor Will Bendix for brainchilding the article, and to Anton Louw and Clayton Truscott for their well-written editorial pieces. Although the overall feel of the article still comes across a little one-sided (the Pro-Cage dive article being three times the length of the Against) it is great to see the debate being looked at from BOTH sides, and being brought to the fore in SA’s most-read surfing publication. Having been interviewed by both writers for the piece, Justin Othersurfa is glad to have the collective voice heard, and is looking forward to seeing how the broader SA surf population responds to the issue.

There are a few issues in Anton’s article that need clarification;

The interpretation of the Shark Attack record is pretty off, and I feel misleading to the reader. Shark attacks in the last 20 years have increased drastically, up to five times the annual average for preceding decades. Review the South African Shark Attack File on this website to add up the numbers yourself. All info derived from the International Shark Attack File and Shark Attack File websites.

Highly respected Alison Kock’s comments that the chum from Cage Dive boats is essentially the same as the slick trailing behind fishing boats is odd, there are no humans dangling themselves in cages off the side of the fishing boat amidst the chum, creating an association in a very different way to the fishermen high and dry onboard.

The fact that the author went on a shark cage dive himself, and thus changed his opinion, is also misleading. There are good operators, and bad. That Anton chose to go with a highly reputable company is great, but that doesnt mean they are all operating in the same manner.

The very point near the end of Anton’s article, where he concedes that the learned marine biologist interviewed all admit there is no concrete evidence that proves there ISNT a link, is enough for us to keep pushing on. They do not have to use chum to do what they do, and its time surfers stood together and made a noise. Surfers For Responsible Shark Cage Diving is busy putting together an Environmental Action Plan to propose an excellent solution for all involved, but whilst we get the wording excactly right, watch this space…

As for Clayton’s article… thanks bru, spot on!

Overall & minor gripes aside I think Anton, Clayton and Will put together a well thought-out piece on the issue.
Well done.

Australian Shark Cage dive operator proves that chum is NOT the only way to attract the Great Whites.

28 June 2011
Click the logo to go to website
Chum- free Eco friendly Great White Shark Cage Diving is being done in Australia by a company called Adventure Bay Charters,, using audio sound vibrations to attract the world’s largest predatory fish, with ACDC being the Great Whites favourite music!! The benefits of using the sound vibration is that it is omnidirectional and instantaneous and completely eco friendly.

SHARKS ENTHUSIASTS HAVE USED fish guts to attract great white sharks for years, but it seems the fearsome creatures may be attracted to something more pleasing to their ears: music from Australian rock band AC/DC.

Matt Waller, a tour operator in South Australia’s Neptune Bay, has observed that when sharks hear the band’s hits, especially Shook Me All Night Long and Back in Black, they are drawn to the source of the music.

Matt’s research was inspired by dive operators on Guadalupe Island, who discovered playing music underwater for clients also caused changes in shark behaviour. He and his company, Adventure Bay Charters, decided to do some experimenting of their own.

Using underwater speakers attached to diving cages, they pumped Australian rock hits through the water. Most of Matt’s tunes had no effect, but when the great whites heard the AC/DC songs, they swam up and rubbed their faces against the source of the music.

Headbanging attraction

Matt acknowledges he is no expert on the minds of sharks and doesn’t know exactly why they find the ’80s rock band’s music so appealing.

“Sharks don’t have ears, they don’t have long hair, and they don’t head bang past the cage doing the air guitar,” he told Australian Geographic.

The sharks are probably drawn to the low frequencies found in AC/DC’s music, and Matt wants to test out this theory. “Once we’ve got a range of songs, we can electronically identify a common characteristic between those songs,” he says.

Led Zeppelin is next on Matt’s playlist, but his children are convinced that the sharks will be fans of the White Stripes and Wolfmother.

Matt’s findings could help cage-diving operations become more environmentally sustainable by reducing the amount of berley used on tours. He says Adventure Bay Charters is currently the only company in the world that uses music, not bait, to attract sharks, but predicts other operators will soon follow his lead.


Yellow Fin warning to bodyboarders

4 March 2011

Bodyboarders wearing yellow fins may attrack sharks, warns veteran spearo Pierre de Villiers. His anecdote that bright colours, particularly yellow, flashing in the water, attract sharks is corroborated by shark scientist Alison Kock.

Pierre de Villiers, Cape Town surfing pioneer, shaper and veteran spearo…

Once when spear fishing at southwestern reefs (off Cape Point) with my mate Duncan, he had a very heavy experience. The water was full of pelagic fish and sharks, and while I was able to spear fish and get away with it, he was getting seriously harassed by sharks. Eventually, while fighting a big yellowtail, he got rushed by a great white intent on a bite.

It totally ignored his struggling yellowtail. This is very unusual. Nothing gets a shark more excited than a fish on a spear. By luck and instinct, he escaped serious injury. Now all this time I was 30 metres or so from him and I had seen sharks only on the edge of my viz. Duncan was rattled and shouting for backup and I noticed as I was swimming towards him that from a distance (before I began to make out his shape) I could saw the yellow flick of his fins winking at me – flash – flash – flash. Every time he kicked, the blade bent and flicked back, and the yellow tip flashed. There was no other word to describe it. The sharks could not leave them alone.

We are both convinced that the yellow blades were the problem. I notice the majority of boogers use two-tone fins. Most are seriously bright and many are yellow. I try to tell them but I mostly only connect in the water so I’m keen for you to pass it on. Anyway, I’ve had it on my mind for a while now please let me know how this info can help.

Alison Kock, shark scientist and world authority on the white shark…

We know that sharks see contrasting colours very well. I’ve seen the same thing happen myself a few times with both black and brightly coloured fins, one incident involving a white shark, the other with makos, blues, and tiger sharks, the blues in particular like nipping at a person’s fins, and I’ve also observed them show what seems to be increased interest to brightly coloured fins. My own anecdotes come from myself and my husband’s shark diving experiences (he is a spearfisherman turned underwater cameraman), and our own rules are to wear all dark colours while diving with sharks of any species, making sure neck, wrists and ankles are covered and there are no contrasting colours on our wetsuits or any other gear e.g. silver, white or yellow on a dark colour that can be mistaken for fish or simply just be of interest to a shark. One of the questions in the South African Shark Attack Incident Report asks about any jewellery worn by the victim for this very reason too, namely shiny objects worn which a shark may mistake for fish.

However, I think a lot also has to do with the action the fins are making. I have seen sharks show particular interest in people who dive or swim erratically in the water (e.g. fast and frequent finning), versus others who are calmer, fin slower and are more relaxed in the water regardless of what colour their fins are. But, having said that based on my own experiences (not scientific evidence) I don’t wear brightly coloured fins or strong contrasting colours when diving with sharks. Another anecdote is that underwater cameramen like using brightly coloured underwater housings, like yellow and silver because they get a lot of interest from the sharks and thus some great footage, and yet another interesting observation is how attracted some species of shark are to the flashing strobes of underwater cameras.

How applicable these observations are to surfers or boogie boarders who are right at the surface and thus silhouetted against the light background I’m not sure. I think the actual finning action as seen by a shark from below would be worthy of investigation regardless of colour. From our observations at Seal Island with white sharks and seal decoys we know that sharks treat stationary decoys very differently to ones that are moving. Relatively speaking most sharks approach the stationary decoy slowly from below versus the full out breaching behaviour that is seen when the same decoy is moving while towed behind a boat. Similar behaviour is seen with seal prey. A dead seal lying at the surface is usually approached slowly from below, while healthy seals swimming fast trying to avoid being predated upon are attacked using the ambush strategy, fast and explosive. Thus, the main difference being again the movement involved. Some people have likened it to dogs chasing cars, a stationary car not so interesting…a moving car much more so.
source: http://www.wavescape.co.za/blog/shark-monitor/yellow-fin-warning.html

Things are happening – new initiative in the Deep South

Another Fatal shark attack in the Transkei

15 January 2011

Junior Border surfer dies in horrific shark attack at Port St Johns

Zama Ndamase (16), a provincial surfer for Border and a 2009 SSA Lotto Scholarship recipient, died this morning (January 15) in a horrific shark attack. He was surfing with his brother, Avuyile, and other members of the local surf club at Second Beach Port St Johns when the attack occurred.

The talented surfer, who has represented Border a number of times, is the fifth shark victim at this notorious beach in the last three years. Four of the attacks have been fatal.

According to reports Zama managed to catch a wave after being bitten and attempted to reach the shore. Tragically he bled to death in the water before he could be reached by the lifeguards and rescue craft.

Zama was one of the most talented surfers to emerge from this remote region and was a leader among the up and coming wave riders in the area. He represented Border at the SA Grommet Games and at the SA Junior Championships in Cape Town last October. He was awarded an SSA Surfing Scholarship in 2009 along with fellow Port St Johns surfer Zitobile Msesiwe.

Representatives and members of Border Surfriders Association (BSA), Surfing South Africa, Zama’s long time coach and mentor Mike Gatke, his East London based teammates and the local surfers are devastated by the tragedy.

Malcome Logie of the BSA said of Zama “he was a young guy, full of spirit and always ready for a laugh. He was always willing to help his teammates and enjoyed giving the younger surfers encouragement and advice. Border was looking to him to play a leading role in our team this year. His passing leaves us numb and with a huge sense of loss.”

There is real concern that the surfers who were in the water during the attack will not be able to cope and plans are being made to send a counselor to the area to help the locals handle the tragedy.

The Port St Johns community is poor and there is precious little money to assist the Ndamase family deal with their grief. Nor are there funds available to pay for the costs of sending a counselor to help the community. The Border Surfriders Association and Surfing South Africa are therefore appealing for support to cover these expenses.

All funds raised will be used to assist the Ndamase family with expenses and contribute to the costs of sending a grief counselor to work with the family and the community.

Any donations can be made to the following account:
Surfing South Africa
FNB Rondebosch 201509
50170019142 (current account)

Please include your name, contact number or email and ZAMA as the reference.

Increased activity – in the water and on the net

4 Dec 2010

Justin Othersurfa carving up the face(book)
“I am just a figment of your imagination. My soul concern in life is to have friends join my FB group – Surfers Against Shark Cage Diving…”
This simple status update has been receiving great attention online this week, with many noted SA and international surfers joining the call. A big-up to everybody raising their hand, from Joe Surfer to Pro Surfer, shapers to surf clubs, major surf brands to startup companies, it is great to see people starting get involved. If you own a business that’s brave enough to raise your concern, send us your logo and url and we’ll add it to the Supporters section. But don’t stop there, this groundswell is still growing, and needs to become a tidal wave (of 50,000 sliders) before it breaks on the reefs of Mossel Bay and Gansbaai!

If you havent already joined the group, do it here

Tell your friends, suggest the group and/or Justin Othersurfa
and lets get this thought-wave reverberating around the world!

Surfers Against Shark Cage Diving
‘igh grade T-Shirts are available for COST PRICE thanks to Country Feeling, and now come with a free sticker to be stuck appropriately! Send your size and postal address on Activism page.

SASCD goes down under!
A chance meeting over a game of scrabble with a reknowned Ozzie legend who has a preference for finless forays of the aquatic kind has pledged his support to SASCD! We are super stoked to add his respected fire to our blaze, and hope to start getting some coverage in Oz and possibly the USA too. Rightly so, as stated in Cold Fact 3 Great Whites are a migratory species, often traversing between SA and West Oz, possibly even on to Nor Cal, so any change in their behaviour should be of concern to wave sliders of all three countries (who also make up the majority of the global wave slider fraternity on this big blue ball of ocean!)

High White Shark Activity in False Bay
The City of Cape Town and the Shark Spotting Programme would like to make water users aware of the current high white shark activity in the inshore area of False Bay, particularly in the Muizenberg, Fish Hoek and Clovelly area. Yesterday, the 29 November, Shark Spotters recorded 5 sightings at Fish Hoek and 6 at Muizenberg, and this morning there has already been 2 sightings at Fish Hoek. For recent sightings at a Shark Spotter beach please visit www.sharkspotters.org.za. The spotters are also recording more than one shark at any given time at both beaches and the sharks are very active and seem to be feeding. Yellowtail (Seriola lalandi) have been seen schooling in the area and it is likely that the white sharks are following and targeting the yellowtail, one of their known preferred prey species. The City and Shark Spotters are appealing to all water users to be extra vigilant at this time, to familiarize themselves with the recent shark activity in the area before entering the water, obey the shark siren, and to take note of the Shark Spotters` flags and signage for regular updates on shark sightings. People are reminded that this behaviour is normal shark behaviour for the summer period.

Some interesting reading from the media of the last few years

16 Nov 2010

Whilst doing a quick search online Justin Othersurfer came across a few great pieces on the issue, if you have a moment follow the links for the full stories;

‘Shark Chumming’ - Carte Blanche Investigative TV show

In the midst of the great increase in attacks in the Cape Town area, presenter Derek Watts interviews a recent attack victim, JP Smith, as well as Rob Lawrence, a shark cage dive operator. click here for the full story>>

‘Arsonists attack city shark boat’ – Cape Times newspaper article

Within 24 hours of the the above Carte Blanche programme airing, a Cape Town Shark Dive Boat is torched. click here for the full story>>

‘One Hour Swim Around the Seal Colony Challenge to the Scientists who support cage-diving ‘

The above is a challenge set out for pro-chum scientists. A very infomative debate ensues between SealAlert SA, and a pompous intellectual who was part of the team who penned the most recognised paper about the non-existent effects of chumming affecting Great White’s behaviour.
click here for the full story>>

‘Cashing in on sharks, unnaturally’ – Cyber Divers News Network

Very interesting info regarding Shark Chumming and attacks in the USA. Great quote, “I knew the late Peter Benchley, author of Jaws. To his dying day he advocated shark preservation and regretted the misnomers about sharks created in his book and the film production that popularized it. “Sharks have an important role to play in nature,” Benchley told me. “It is unnatural to feed them. Worse to kill them because we are afraid of them and must kill what we fear.” click here for the full story>> and here for a fascinating resource of articles on the issue