Keep shark nets out of Cape Town

As many of you already know, a swimmer was killed by a great white shark in Cape Town yesterday at a beach with no shark nets. Shark Savers director Julie Andersen has written a message for those of us interested in sharks attacks in South Africa.

If you don’t have time to read but still want to help, Julie asks that you click on over to News 24 to vote on how you think shark attacks can be prevented.

Sharks could really use your help.

As I am sure you know, a tourist was killed by a shark in Cape Town yesterday at a beach with no nets. In fact, none of Cape Town has nets - and they have managed to balance public concern for years through awareness, education, a lot of hard work, and the Shark Spotters. The incident occurred at a Shark Spotter beach, though the black flag was flying (meaning the Shark Spotters indicated to the public it was a “enter at your risk” day - there was not enough visibility for them to monitor the water.) Unfortunately, this ends an over four year “no incident’ record Shark Spotters were holding - there had not been an incident since they started.

This could not come at a worse time. SA is currently planning for a large upcoming influx of tourism into the country and focus thanks to the World Cup (and though sharks are now listed on the “Big 7” we know they have no issues killing them as proven by the Natal Sharks Board every day). And it is coming at a time where there have been a few highly (though erroneously) publicized incidents in the country - the anti-shark sentiment was already getting stronger. Additionally, the no nets battle becomes harder and harder each time there is an accident in Cape Town, of course. It was placated over four years ago by Shark Spotters - who do an incredible job. And, we all know if sharks wanted to eat us, with the high number of water users in Cape Town, a lot more accidents would occur. In 2007, of the 601,133 deaths in South Africa, two were from sharks. Compare that to 6,153 deaths from vehicular accidents, 5,648 deaths due to assault and 49,722 deaths due to influenza and pneumonia, and there are far more rational things to be worried about.

I know I don’t need to tell you we need to keep nets out of Cape Town. Not to mention all the other issues I could list off that Durban has suffered thanks to the archaic fishing devices, it would be absolutely disastrous for a protected and threatened species: the White. Please circulate this link and ask people to vote on the bottom: http://www.news24.com

We really need to get noisy on the various news sites and in the press. Sadly at times like these, though tragic, it is very difficult to have a rational discussion and help people understand the true facts. People just start looking for the easiest “silver bullet” solution to calm their often irrational fears and spew all sorts of their misinformed, fear-driven sentiment. Which is what seems to resonate and get the most press. :(

If you could champion this a bit, it would really help. Of course, please put it in your own words. If you need any more information or facts, do let me know; of course I have plenty - but I imagine you all do as well. (And if you hear anyone jump on the “No cage diving” band wagon, they really ought to read the scientific study, Effects on Ecotourism on the White Sharks Behavior)

Thanks for your help.

Julie Andersen
Founder & Director, Shark Savers - www.sharksavers.org
Shark Angel - www.sharkangels.com