Great white spotted off the coast of Southport

2011-12-23 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL Sharks Board has confirmed that it received a report of a sighting of a great white shark — about five metres long — in the sea off Southport.

Jeremy Cliff from the Sharks Board said the sighting was reported on Wednesday.

“We checked our nets today, [yesterday] but there was nothing caught in them,” he said.

Cliff also confirmed that another great white shark was caught in the nets in Margate on Wednesday.

“We haven’t seen the shark as yet. It is still in our freezers in Margate. According to our team on the South Coast, it is much smaller than the one spotted in Southport,” Cliff said.

He said great white sharks are not very common on the South Coast although they can be spotted at anytime of the year.

“They are cooler water sharks so we don’t see much of them.”

He said the sighting should not cause mass hysteria and bathers can still swim on the South Coast.

“Swimmers just need to obey the lifeguards and swim in designated areas. If there is a sighting the lifeguards will get the people out of the water,” Cliff added.

A local pilot, who wanted to remain anonymous, was flying over the beach and spotted the shark in the water. “It looked to be about five metres long and about 100 metres away from the shore,” he said.

The pilot added that he could see the fin sticking out of the water.

He tried to land on the beach and warn the bathers, but could not find a landing space. “I phoned the lifeguards and alerted them and they got the bathers out of the water.”

Operations director for Tower 13 Lifeguards, Leon Garbade, said: “We cleared bathers from the water and had the beach closed off for three hours. So far we haven’t seen the shark again.”

“To be honest 90% of the time people are swimming with sharks and don’t know it. There is no need for mass panic,” Garbade added.

He said swimmers should avoid swimming between dusk and dawn, swim at designated beaches between the flags and avoid swimming near river mouths and in dirty water.

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