Bumper donation for Sharkspotting project

A Shark Spotter above Muizenberg beach keeps his attention on the bay.

Sharkspotting will be made a lot easier after a R20 000 donation was pledged to help upgrade the non-profit’s binoculars.

Shark Spotters CEO Sarah Waries said the offer had come from the Southern African Northeast Chamber of Commerce, a group of prominent Chinese business owners in Cape Town.

“They have very kindly offered to donate R20 000 towards our crowdfunding campaign for binoculars for the spotters and have indicated that this would be an initial donation in what could be a larger partnership between their organisation and Shark Spotters,” Ms Waries said.

She said the news was very exciting as False Bay had the second largest aggregation of white sharks in the world, and the largest on the doorstep of a major city.

The organisation needs 35 new binoculars to better identify the sharks in the bay.

As apex predators, sharks play a vital role in our ecosystem, regulating populations further down the food chain. They are also a key ocean-health indicator and improve ocean diversity by feeding on sick or weak organisms.

“Conserving large, predatory sharks, which are sometimes in conflict with people, is a major conservation challenge because fear can stop people from supporting their conservation,” said Ms Waries.

“In order to maintain the balance between great white shark conservation and public safety, it is imperative that we have a strong scientific foundation on white shark ecology.”

Since 2004, Shark Spotters has recorded more than 2163 shark sightings with the average visitor spending approximately 17 minutes in eyeshot.

The team has been on the lookout for sharks for over 200 000 hours.

Muizenberg appears to be the most popular destination with 983 recorded sightings.

To put these figures into context, an average of 35 people are present for each sighting and 83% of the sharks are described to be in the medium to large range.

The Shark Spotters team consists of 45 dedicated employees: 10 net crew, five management and 30 trained spotters from disadvantaged communities.

Trained observers (spotters, are strategically located at elevated positions above high-risk shark beaches, and provide an early warning system for water users, alerting them to the presence of great white sharks.

To ensure public safety, Shark Spotters rely heavily on binoculars to correctly identify the species and the potential threat it poses.

Shark Spotters is primarily funded by The City of Cape
Town and Save Our Seas Foundation who account for 90% of the organisation’s operational costs.

“Sharks are not easy to spot, unlike whales and dolphins,
we rarely see their dorsal fin or other body parts above water, which is why we need increased visibility.

“The current binoculars we have are dated and most are in a state of disrepair, we hope the public will support our BackaBuddy campaign to empower us to keep our waters safe,” said Ms Waries.

Support the Shark Spotters campaign here: www.backabuddy.co.za/spotters-binocular-fund