Time to keep a cool head
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.