Bloody cheek

Here’s something interesting from today’s Cape Times, concerning the shark-spotting programme operating on some of Cape Town’s beaches.
Lest we forget, this programme is in place to warn those using the ocean when there is an increased danger of a shark attack, like the one last month at (the unguarded) Kogel Bay.

That particular attack came while research into False Bay’s shark population was underway and, of course, there were immediate and vociferous allegations that the two were linked, although this was later rubbished by independent experts. However, the surfing community is still generally unhappy about humans dumping blood into the sea because that attracts sharks which then allegedly eat the surfers. You can see this unhappiness here, with quotes such as:

I don’t like the idea of chumming. 20 years ago, we never saw a shark at Muizenberg. Now we see them regularly.


…anything that brings sharks closer to humans isn’t good.

It seems that surfers are obviously concerned about the danger of shark attacks. Who knew?

All of which brings me back to that Cape Times article today. Aside from a few stats on the shark-spotter programme, it also mentioned some natural chumming:

An injured pygmy sperm whale beached itself at Surfers Corner in Muizenberg on Saturday and the red warning flag was kept up to caution the public that its blood could attract the presence of sharks.
The red flag indicates a recent sighting and a high shark alert.

And how did the surfers react?

hundreds of surfers remained in the water to take advantage of good waves.

So really, how bothered are surfers about chumming? Not much, it seems, when a DYING WHALE FULL OF SHARK ATTRACTANT is spewing its load into False Bay right next to their Mecca, they just carry on surfing.
Why on earth would they do that? Let’s ask an expert, surfer Gary Kleynhans, who was there on Saturday:

The surf is cooking! I understand the shark spotter programme is a safety measure and I appreciate that. But if surfers want to go surfing, they will.

I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and it seems to me that when a bloke chucks a bucket full of blood into the sea, that will attract great whites, but if a whale beaches and releases a whaleful of blood into the sea, that won’t.

Especially if the surf is “cooking”.

Am I alone is seeing a slight dichotomy here?

5 thoughts on “Bloody cheek

  1. You fail to mention that Gary Kleynhans owns Gary’s Surf School at Muizenberg corner. Obviously he wants guys to carry on surfing…it’s his livelihood.

  2. Wallfish > I didn’t know. The blurb on Zigzag doesn’t state that. But it’s irrelevant really. My point is that many (most) surfers (and interested parties) are anti-chumming. But then “hundreds” ignore the warning due to a “natural chumming” incident.
    I’m annoyed that my taxes help fund the sharkspotters programme, the main beneficiaries of which choose to ignore their warnings.

  3. At least if the City has the Shark Spotting programme working, and the surfers choose to ignore it, many more of your tax money won’t be wasted on costly lawsuits as the bitter family try to make a payday out of the unfortunate events…

  4. Hi 6k, I think a little push back is warranted: You read in the paper that a large group put their own lives at risk by surfing while a beached whale lay dying and bleeding nearby. They set aside common sense and ignored the shark spotter’s red flag. You argue thereby that this somehow invalidates the surfing community’s arguments against chumming. And further leaves you resentful of the allocation of funds, collected in part from you through rates, to the shark spotter program?

    Do you have any evidence that individual surfers who have argued against chumming were surfing the corner on Saturday?

    I think there is a fallacy here . . . perhaps a false dichotomy? To use a similar line of logic with a ridiculous outcome: It’s a bit like my arguing that since you live in Cape Town and have young children, and since I am frequently shocked see families driving around Cape Town with their young children unrestrained, and since I don’t specifically know whether you strap yours in, that your recent commentary on kids unrestrained in cars is invalid.

    If indeed a few anti-chumming activists were, in fact, surfing near the bleeding whale, you’ve only really shown that those individuals are to some degree hypocrites, perhaps fools, or inconsistent like many humans.

    In regards to the actual merits of the anti-chumming arguments, you appeal to authority, citing the “independent experts” of the CCT report as “rubbishing” everything the surfers have to say. I have a bit to say about that too, for now I’ll stick to one line of argument per comment.

  5. Gary > Surely if the programme is there, and someone still gets eaten, the claim will be higher?

    Jonathan > Many fair points in your comment. But my experience has shown that chumming is an extremely emotive issue in surfing circles and that surfers are almost unilaterally opposed to the practice – especially that in False Bay.
    I would be hugely surprised if those hundreds of surfers out at Muzienberg on Saturday were made up solely the tiny number of individuals who are pro-chumming (or even those few who are ambivalent about it).
    Simple mathematics leads us to the conclusion that many of those individuals are therefore (in your words) hypocrites, fools, inconsistent. Simple observation leads us to believe that they are also (your words) human, although I believe that there is a much celebrated dog which occasionally surfs at that beach as well.

    But I digress. Often.

    Does this invalidate surfers arguments about chumming? Not quite, but it does significantly undermine the strength and rationale of their case, in my view. It does rather make it seem that they are merely opposed to man’s “interference” in the False Bay ecosystem on the grounds of it being man’s interference, rather than on the grounds that they believe it will actually lead to an increased number of shark attacks.

    As for the sharkspotters issue, I liken it in part to being like an community mob burning down a library to show their frustration at not having access to enough books.
    They (surfers) want the protection, they complain when it isn’t there (as in Kogel Bay), but then they choose to ignore the advice of the service.
    I recognise that the sharkspotters service does more than spot sharks – it has created employment and raised awareness. However, one has to question the overall value – especially with city budgets already stretched – when its primary role is so obviously disregarded by what is, to all intents and purposes, its primary clientèle.

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