Travel Tip Of The Day: How To Stay Safe Around Sharks In Cape Town

The beaches of Cape Town are some of the best in the world, but sometimes there is something lurking under the water — sharks.

Here are a few things you should know about staying safe around sharks in Cape Town.

After news last year of a shark attack in Muizenberg Beach, people have been more wary about getting into the water, but local officials have been on top of their game.

Cape Town’s shark safety program, Shark Spotters, is now positioned at strategic points in the area, primarily along the False Bay Coast Line.

Spotters look out for sharks, and if they see one they sound an alarm and raise a white flag with a black shark on it.

However, the group uses four different flags to provide information to beachgoers, but they can be a bit confusing as each one has a picture of a shark on it.

Here is what all the flags mean:

Green Flag:


It’s safe to take to the waters, and spotters can see clearly in the area where people are.

Black Flag:


Spotters can’t clearly see what’s in the area due to water clarity, cloud cover, etc. This doesn’t mean a shark has been spotted.

Red Flag:


A shark has been seen recently, but there is no immediate threat. The flag is also flown for an hour after a shark has been spotted. However, we think it’s better to be safe than sorry.

White Flag:


GET OUT OF THE WATER! Is there any other explanation needed? This means there is a shark in the area and visible to spotters. It’s also raised in the event of a shark attack.

The likelihood of a shark attack is extremely slim, but it’s still best to be aware of your surroundings.

Shark Spotters offers these general safety tips:

  • If you are not fully aware of all of the risks of bathing in the ocean and are not prepared to take these risks, do not go into the ocean.
  • White sharks, like all predators, are more likely to identify a solitary individual as potential prey, so try to remain in a group.
  • White sharks are primarily visual hunters which would normally allow them to correctly distinguish you from their preferred prey species. Therefore, avoid entering the ocean when it is murky, during darkness or twilight hours.
  • When encountering a white shark remain as calm as you can. Assess the situation. Do not panic! Use any equipment (camera, surfboard, etc.) you may be carrying to create a barrier between yourself and the shark.
  • If you see a shark, calmly alert other ocean users around you. Remain in or create a group, and leave the water in a calm and swift, but smooth, manner. Alert the lifeguards or shark spotters.

For more detailed tips for scuba divers, free divers, snorkelers, spearfishermen, surfers, and bodyboarders, see here.

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