GWS call home!

To continue the shark theme from yesterday . . . (If the Discovery Channel can have a Shark Week, so can I!)

I came across an article about the monitoring of Great White sharks in Australia. Great White sharks along parts of the Australia coast, have been fitted with electronic tracking devices. If the shark passes a monitoring station, then an email is sent to the Fisheries Department, and SMS text messages are sent to government and beach safety agencies.

“Although sharks are being tagged to improve our understanding of the risk of attacks, it is also important that beachgoers are advised of detections,” a Fisheries Department senior scientist Dr McAuley said.


Great White shark off Fish Hoek beach near Cape Town, South Africa (Image: Alison Kock, Save Our Seas White Shark Research Team)


The above photograph was taken on 28 September 2006 by the Save Our Seas White Shark Research Team while visually tracking a large white shark first identified by the Fish Hoek Shark Spotter. On that day the research team were at Seal Island when they got a call from the Fish Hoek shark spotter that a large white shark had just entered Fish Hoek Bay. No swimmers were in the water at the time as the law enforcement and shark spotters closed the beach while the shark was in the bay.

South Africa has gone the low-tech route regarding warning bathers of the presence of sharks in the water. Shark spotters (i.e. people with binoculars and mobile phones) are present at all popular beaches during “shark season”. Once a shark has been spotted, bathers are alerted by means of colored flags as to the dangers that lurk in the surf. They are also warned when the water is murky and the visibility is too low to spot a shark. I understand the choice of red (for when there is increased shark activity), green (for good visibility, no sharks spotted), and black (for bad visibility) flags. But the choice of a white flag (for there’s a shark in near the beach, get out of the water NOW!) baffles me. I thought white was for peace?! Or maybe it’s surrender as in “okay, I surrender – you can eat me now!”? At least they sound a siren as well though – which is probably more difficult to ignore than a flag. Click here for more info on beach safety.

Of course the “manual method” doesn’t always work. Shark spotters are fallible, and bathers don’t always listen to instructions. Or don’t understand the instructions. As was tragically discovered in January 2010.

I’m still going to stay out of the water!


Tags: , , , , ,

Categories: Nature/Environment, Science/Technology


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


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