React appropriately if you encounter a shark while swimming

Surge in Shark Activity in Western Cape

In recent weeks, the Western Cape has witnessed a notable increase in shark activity, as reported by the Shark Spotters programme.

This surge has prompted concerns among beachgoers and necessitates a closer look at the precautions individuals should take if encountering a shark while swimming.

Spotting a Whale Shark at Clifton Beach:

On Thursday, January 4, an unusual sighting occurred at Cape Town’s Clifton Beach, where a whale shark was spotted, adding to the heightened awareness of marine activity in the region.

Shark Sightings in False Bay:

The Shark Spotters programme, in a statement released last month, highlighted the alarming trend, stating, “There have been 4 confirmed reports of great white sharks in False Bay within the last week.”

Specific instances, such as the sightings at Muizenberg on Monday, November 27, and Wednesday, November 29, underscore the urgency of understanding appropriate responses.

Guidance from the National Sea Rescue Institute:

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) offers crucial advice on what individuals should do if they encounter a shark.

The primary recommendations include remaining calm, exiting the water promptly, and promptly informing local lifesavers or shark spotters.

In the absence of on-duty personnel, the NSRI should be notified.

Understanding Beach Flags:

Key to beach safety during shark sightings is the understanding of beach flags, particularly the white flag featuring a black shark—a universal symbol used on South African beaches to indicate the presence of a shark in the water.

Additionally, the article elaborates on the significance of other flags, such as the red, green, and black flags, each conveying specific information related to shark sightings and safety conditions.


As the Western Cape grapples with heightened shark activity, being well-informed about appropriate responses and beach safety measures becomes paramount.

Vigilance, adherence to guidance from programs like Shark Spotters, and understanding beach flags contribute to a safer coastal experience for all.

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