Shark spotter Sarah tops SA

2015-08-11 06:01
Shark Spotter’s project manager Sarah Waries has been named as one of Mail andamp; Guardian newspaper’s 200 Young South Africans.

Shark Spotter’s project manager Sarah Waries has been named as one of Mail andamp; Guardian newspaper’s 200 Young South Africans.

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Cape Town’s Shark Spotters have received yet another accolade, as project manager Sarah Waries has been recognised on the Mail andamp; Guardian newspaper’s list of 200 Young South Africans.

Waries joined the Shark Spotters team in 2008. She started managing it along with several other projects, but it has now grown into a full-time job.

The programme now employs 45 people working as shark spotters on eight beaches.

“The nomination is great recognition. We’ve been working very hard to grow the project and we’re starting to get recognition on so many levels. But the awards should really go to the shark spotters themselves,” she says.

Waries began her career as an environmentalist when she moved to Cape Town to study baboons in Kommetjie as part of her Honours degree study.

“I’ve always been obsessed with animals. I was fortunate to grow up in different countries and see some really cool animals,” she says.

Although she returned to the UK afterwards, working on projects such as implementing the first recycling system at Wimbledon, she couldn’t stay away from the beauty of the Cape for long.

“Cape Town has such a diverse and beautiful environment,” she says.

But when Waries started on the Shark Spotters project, she knew next to nothing about sharks, she confesses.

“I’ve learnt so much about sharks and marine conservation through the programme. It’s amazing to see how so many people feel connected to the sea,” she says.

False Bay boasts the world’s largest aggregation of white sharks on the doorstep of a major city, with over 450 individual sharks identified off Cape Town over the past 10 years.

The organisation is now bucking down to prepare for the summer season, which will kick off with a symposium on Southern African sharks and rays, which will take place in Simon’s Town in September.

The Shark Spotters will also visit Western Australia, to assess the feasibility of installing shark exclusion nets there, Waries says.

“None of our programme is patented or anything. We just want to help people,” she says.

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