On my last visit to Cape Town I had to make a stop in Noordhoek and returned to Cape Town via Fish Hoek and Boyes Drive. At the top of Boys Drive I pulled over to enjoy the view of Muizenberg Beach from the lookout where one of the shark spotters is based. The Shark Spotting Programme is the only program of its kind in the world. Cape Town has, over the last few years, experienced an increase in the number of great white sharks sighted in the in-shore zone. In response to these events and the increased fear by water users, particularly in False Bay, two community driven programmes were started out of a need to improve the safety of recreational water users. The amalgamation of these two initiatives resulted in the Shark Spotters programme. How it works is that Shark Spotters are positioned at strategic points along the False Bay coastline. A spotter, like the one on this particular lookout, is placed on the mountain with polarised sunglasses and binoculars. This spotter is in radio contact with another spotter on the beach. If a shark is seen the beach spotter sounds a siren and raises a white flag with a black shark. When the siren sounds the water users are requested to leave the water and only return when the appropriate all clear signal is given.
He wasn’t doing any jumping around while peering out over the edge with his hands above his eyes so it didn’t seem like there were any sharks close inshore anywhere. I peered down along the coastline anyway and thought to myself that these guys obviously know just what to look for what with all the waves, cloud shadows, surfers and pieces of floating sea bamboo around.