Shark spotters flock to Cape beaches

IT used to be whale spotting, but a week after a British man had his leg bitten off by a great white shark, it appears fin spotting has become the latest Cape Town hobby.

Hundreds of binocular-wielding shark watchers have been lining the sidewalks on Boyes Drive above Muizenberg and St James outside the city in the past week.

"We have a lot of sharks swimming very close to the shore in False Bay at the moment," Gregg Oelofse, head of the City of Cape Town's environmental policy and strategy department said.

"A (great) white was in Fish Hoek bay the whole weekend. The beaches will stay closed and we will remain on high alert until the situation changes."

Michael Cohen was attacked around midday on Wednesday last week.The shark bit off his right leg above the knee and part of his left leg below the knee.

Constantiaberg Medi-Clinic said he was conscious and stable on Monday afternoon.

Cohen was the third shark victim in Fish Hoek in the past seven years. In January last year, Zimbabwean tourist Lloyd Skinner was pulled under the surf and dragged out to sea by a great white.His diving goggles and a patch of blood were all that remained in the water.

In November 2004, a 77-year-old woman, Tyna Webb, was taken by a shark while she was swimming the backstroke.

Shark spotter Monwabisi Sikweyiya said shark watchers, who often stand alongside the city's shark spotters, had caused traffic jams throughout the weekend.

"We have lots of curious onlookers who want to see the sharks, and people just stop anywhere to look," he told the Cape Times newspaper. "Everyone wants to see the sharks."

Shark scientist Alison Kock said great whites moved closer inshore from late August and stayed through the summer to feed.

"There is a lot of food available for white sharks at this time of year, a lot more species of fish, bottom dwelling sharks and seals," she said. "It's not a good idea to go swimming right now."- Sapa

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