Time to keep a cool head

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

IN THE af­ter­math of this week’s hor­rific shark at­tack which claimed the life of Zim­bab­wean tourist Lloyd Skin­ner, there is an al­most re­flex­ive need to ap­por­tion blame for the in­ci­dent. Who, or what, should be blamed for Skin­ner’s death – the shark spot­ters, the life­guards, Skin­ner him­self, the shark?

This kind of fear­ful re­sponse is nat­u­ral, and in­evitable, even in the face of dis­com­fort­ing statis­tics

which re­mind us that our lives are at greater risk from beach-go­ing mo­torists than from ocean preda­tors which, for the most part, are not in­clined to feed on peo­ple.

On this hot and sunny week­end, as thou­sands of Capeto­ni­ans and vis­i­tors make their way to the city’s beaches, at least lit­tle more anx­ious than they would have been last week­end, we must ask what the au­thor­i­ties are do­ing to en­sure our safety.

There has been an in­crease in shark at­tacks in re­cent years, but to what can this be at­trib­uted – chum­ming, sewage, global warm­ing? We have a right to know, and we need our au­thor­i­ties to tell us the rea­sons for it, and what can be done to en­sure the safety of beach­go­ers.

Killing sharks would be un­de­sir­able and, as re­ported in yes­ter­day’s Cape Ar­gus, shark nets, elec­tronic bar­ri­ers and other tech­no­log­i­cal de­ter­rents

have been con­sid­ered, but could not be im­ple­ment- ed for lo­gis­ti­cal and eco­log­i­cal rea­sons, es­pe­cially the im­pact th­ese would have on other species.

Other, newer live-shark mon­i­tor­ing tech­nol­ogy would have to be eval­u­ated and re­viewed, said shark ex­pert Ali­son Kock.

So, for now, cau­tion and com­mon sense are need-

ed. The city has ap­pealed to the pub­lic to use beach- es with life­sav­ing ser­vices and with shark spot­ters, to swim in groups and re­main on the land­ward side of break­ers, in waist-deep wa­ter. Bathers should keep out the wa­ter when marine mam­mals such as dol­phins and whales have been ob­served near the beach and when fish­er­men with trawl nets are on the beach.

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