Sharks! Beachgoers warned to know the signs

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has urged beachgoers and bathers to be vigilant whilst on beaches notorious for their shark encounters. The city issued an official warning systems, called the four flag system, in order to warn bathers and surfers of the shark activity spotted on the different beaches that are being watched. 

A red flag indicates a Shark Alert. This flag will be flown during periods of increased shark activity, after a shark has recently been spotted in the area and the beach cleared, or when conditions are conducive to high shark activity. 

A green flag means that the spotting conditions are good and no sharks have been seen. 

A black flag means that the spotting conditions are poor, but no sharks have been seen. 

A white flag with a black shark diagram means that a shark is currently near the beach, and beach users must get out of the water. A siren is sounded and the white flag is raised. 

Beaches that are under constant surveillance include Muizenberg - where most shark sightings have been made since September this year - as well as as Fish Hoek, St James Beach, Kalk Bay and Noordhoek. 

Shark spotting programs are operational at the following areas at the following times: 

Muizenberg Beach: Seven days a week from 08:00 – 18:00 
St James Beach and Kalk Bay: Seven days a week from 08:00 – 18:00 
Fish Hoek Beach: Seven days a week from 08:00 – 18:00 
Noordhoek (The Hoek): Seven days a week from 08:00 – 18:00 
From the beginning of October, the afternoon shift is extended to 19:00. All morning times remain the same, except for Fish Hoek which runs from 07:00 – 19:00. 

For the current peak summer season the Shark Spotting program has been extended to 2 additional areas, namely Clovelly and Glencairn. Surfers were also asked to be especially vigilant in the areas between Sunrise Beach and Macassar Beach during the spring and summer months.

Follow these tips for keeping safe in Cape Town's shark infested waters: 
Do not swim, surf or surf ski when birds, dolphins or seals are feeding nearby. 
Do not swim in deep water beyond the breakers. 
Do not swim if you are bleeding. 
Do not swim near river mouths. 
Do not swim, surf or surf ski near areas where trek netting, fishing or spear fishing is taking place. 
Do not swim, surf or surf ski at night.
If a shark has recently been sighted in an area where no shark spotters are present, consider using another beach for the day. 
First time visitors to beach areas should ask the local law enforcement official, life guards or locals about the area.
Obey beach officials if told to leave the water. 
For those people kayaking or surf skiing far out to the sea, consider paddling in groups and staying close together (in a diamond formation). 
Consider using a personal shark shield when you go surfing or kayaking. 
Pay attention to any shark signage on beaches. 

Beachgoers are warned that shark activity increases when temperatures rise with the new moon, too. 

Holiday-makers along the KwaZulu-Natal and Wild Coasts are also urged to be vigilant on beaches as many smaller - yet dangerous - sharks have been spotted near the many river mouths along these East Coast. 

If you spot any shark activity in Cape Town and surrounds, please contact emergency official at one of these numbers: 107 or 021 480 7700 or 080 911 4357 or 021 449 3500 

Please share your thoughts & travel experiences with us at or contact us on our FacebookTwitter or Instagram accounts. 

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