Seasonal shoals increase shark sightings along Cape Town shoresPublished: 16th November 2017
The first large shoals of yellowtail have been seen in False Bay and visitors to Cape Town are being warned of the increased number of sharks along the coast.
We're not aware that many of our guests plan to do much ocean swimming during their holiday to South Africa, but we know they are keen to see wildlife, so this is very exciting!
As apex predators, sharks play an important role in maintaining the balance of the ocean but their numbers have been in steep decline with overfishing, shark finning and habitat destruction all impacting on shark populations. Due to slow growth, late maturity and having few offspring, sharks, skates and rays are extremely vulnerable. There are now 110 species listed in a threat category on the IUCN Red List with a further 95 species listed as Near Threatened (figures provided by the Shark Trust).
A unique selling point in South Africa, visitors can see not only the Big Five on safari (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino) but also the Big Marine Five (penguins, seals, dolphins, whales and sharks). This makes for a hugely exciting and diverse holiday experience.
Short Guide to seeing the Marine Big Five in South Africa's Cape
- The optimum time to see whales along the Cape Coast, particularly Southern Right Whales who come to calve in the shallow bays is generally between April and October/November with the Hermanus Whale Festival falling in September. Cliff top paths make Walker Bay a perfect place for shore based whale watching. There are also many view points along the gorgeous coast road from Cape Town to Hermanus where you can pull in and watch the whales as they swim by.
- Penguins can be seen on a visit to Boulders - many African Penguins bob in the water and nest on the beach.
- Cape Fur Seals are usually seen in abundance all around the coast, for example at Hout Bay - Duiker Island (Hout Bay) is home to 5,000 or Seal Island in False bay (just 8 miles from Simonstown).
- The best chance of seeing dolphins is on a boat trip - for example ecolodge Grootbos near Gansbaai offers whale and dolphin trips. There are also boat trips offered from the V&A waterfront area and Hermanus, or from Plettenberg Bay and Knysna if you are going along the Garden Route. Bottlenose, Common and Humpback dolphins are most commonly seen along the Garden Route with Dusky dolphins sometimes seen in the waters around Cape Town near False Bay.
- The highest number of shark sightings is usually August to April as the sea temperature starts to warm. You can join boat trips from Gansbaai out to Dyer Island where Great White Sharks are known to patrol the waters or enjoy walking the wonderful Cape Town beaches, keeping your eyes peeled for activity! Gansbaai is around 100 miles south west of Cape Town and considered the best place to see Great Whites. If you do get to glimpse a shark on your travels in South Africa (from a boat or dry land) we think you're very lucky...
Many of Cape Town's most popular beaches have shark spotters and some have exclusion nets during the warm summer months. If you are planning to venture from the sand into the sea (without a cage) then please do heed local advice!
'Use beaches where shark spotters are on duty, and familiarise yourself with the four-flag warning system and warning siren."
Do you know your flags?
These are the four flags beachgoers should look out for:
- The green flag indicates that spotting conditions are good.
- The red flag indicates that there is a high risk of inshore shark activity.
- The black flag means spotting conditions are poor.
- The white flag with the black shark indicates a shark has been spotted (a siren will sound and all should leave the water immediately).
If you are interested in Shark Cage Diving - an incredibly thrilling way to observe large sharks at close quarters - and an important sector in ecotourism helping to raise awareness about the species - then please do ask us about tours - we feel it is vital to only support responsible local operators involved in marine conservation and education.
If you would like to find out more about holidays to South Africa and its wonderful wildife please click here.
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