The Shark Spotters programme, an independent non-profit venture, currently operates shark spotting posts on six Cape Townbeaches, five of them in False Bay from Muizenberg to Glencairn, and one at Noordhoek on the Atlantic side.
However, the eastern side of False Bay, where Koel Bay is located has not been covered by Shark Spotters.
Shark Spotters spokesperson Sarah Titley said a meeting was held between Shark Spotters management and various Boland surfing associations on Monday night to investigate the possibility of setting up a spotting site at Koel Bay.
The City of Cape Town has stated that shark sightings at Koel Bay are common and surfers say they have often been ‘buzzed’ by sharks in the area.
However, attacks are rare. Other than the attack on Lilienfeld, the last recorded attack was in 1999 when surfer Sergio Capri survived a bite to his thigh.
Constraints to setting up a spotting site at Koel Bay have been that it is far from the urban centre and public transport for spotters is lacking.
But Titley said they were keen to set up a site at Koel Bay to prevent further attacks.
She said they were looking at whether spotters would be able to be as effective there as elsewhere in False Bay where they had called people out of the water to prevent attacks on more than 700 occasions since the initiative started in 2004.
Elevation of a spotting site and water clarity in the area were considerations and extra funding was required if a Koel Bay site was to be established as there was “not a cent to spare” in the current budget of R1.5 million a year.
She said 80% of the budget was spent on labour as the spotters operated 365 days a year and thoroughly complied with all labour legislation such as extra pay on weekends and public holidays.
The Shark Spotters, who called surfers out of the water at Kalk Bay just yesterday after a shark cruised past the line up, received 70% of their money from the City of Cape Town, 20% from the Save our Seas Foundation, with the rest obtained through fundraising and proceeds from the annual Wavescape surfboard art auction.
Chair of the Boland Surfing Association, Rodney Bester, said there was “fantastic” support from Boland and Western Provincesurfers for the establishment of a Shark Spotters site at Koel Bay.
Bester said it was just that the logistics were “a bit of a problem” but Titley was drafting a proposal for the City of Cape Town to consider.
“Our guys are keen, they even agreed to pay a monthly subscription fee.”
However, he warned that there was a need for a shark spotting site at Strand as well, where the younger surfers enjoyed the sport. – Steve Kretzmann