The water surrounding Cape Town is home to a bounty of marine life, including one very famous apex predator: the great white shark. The conflict between sharks and humans is a subject of heated debate in South Africa because the ocean is incredibly popular with surfers. In 2004, the City of Cape Town, in partnership with the Save Our Seas Foundation, launched the Shark Spotters program to help mitigate this human-wildlife conflict.
This unique approach to managing the risk of shark attack is utilized on 7 public beaches in Cape Town. Spotters are trained and based at high elevations during the day, looking for sharks coming close to the shoreline where people are in the water. Using a system of flags on the beach plus a loud siren to warn everyone to get out of the water when a shark is near minimizes the risk of attack.
It sounds fairly simple but it is actually hard work. Murky water and poor visibility mean underwater shadows might actually just be a passing dolphin or seal. Bring your own binoculars up to Boyes Drive and look down at the water to test your shark spotting skills.