Sharks, Antarctic swell lead to closure of beaches

Sharks and other ocean predators are gathering for the scrumptious sardine bait balls which are believed to be on the way from the south.

Sharks and a pumping Antarctic south swell has seen beaches officially closed for the week. Three sightings last week are signs that the feeders are gathering and sharpening their cutlery, local experts say.

Two shark surface torpedo runs – happily not against surfers but chases for fish – temporarily shut down the BCM Pro national surfing competition at the Nahoon Reef on Sunday.

On Monday, SA champion and local surfer Wayne Monk raised the alarm when a shark surfaced nearby while he and three others were surfing heavy waves off the Nahoon Beach near the river mouth.

Monk said: “During the competition on Sunday a shark breached (leapt) out of the water. This may have been a thresher shark because they are one of the few shark species that are known to jump fully out of the water. The competition had a break for a few minutes.

“A shark also breached a couple more times at the back of the Reef,” he added.

“On Tuesday, a shark came as close as 10m to me and four other surfers and we got out immediately to report the sighting at the lifesavers’ shack. They got everyone out the water”.

Experts said sharks were coming into the area because of the sardine run, warmer water and recovery of the species.

Border Deep-Sea Angling environmental officer John Rance said the shark population had increased. “This is no reason to fear the ocean as most of the sharks that are sighted are said to be harmless.”

Experienced surf coach and photographer Ed Peinke said the sea temperature had shot up from 16ºC to 24°C, which attracted a lot of game and tropical fish to the inshore reefs.

“These fish are what bring the sharks closer to our shores as they feed where there are large amounts of fish.

BCM spokesman Sibusiso Cindi said Nahoon Beach was closed earlier in the week, followed by Gonubie and Orient beaches.

“Beaches have been closed due to massive surges and heavy seas that came through yesterday and the Orient Beach has been temporary closed due to a shark sighting,” said Cindi.

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