Be Safe in the Surf: Sea Safety on Holiday
Never one to stand by and do nothing, industry leader Paul Duverge, Managing Director of Raw Africa Boutique Collection and the founder of the new (not-for-profit section 21 company) tourism body, Plettenberg Bay Tourism, distressed at the news of two recent fatal shark attacks in Plettenberg Bay. He set about formulating a plan of action to support the shark awareness and safety campaign “Be Ocean Smart” initiated by the Bitou Municipality and NSRI Station 14 Plettenberg Bay.
Duverge believes it is imperative that the public be made aware of this ocean safety and awareness campaign.
“Here in Plett, locals are privy to regular news via social media regarding shark activity in our waters, and we’re also well aware that at this time of the year, marine and shark activity increases – the waters surrounding Plettenberg Bay are teeming with marine life at the moment, with multiple sightings of dolphins, whales and shark. But the many visitors to the town and holiday guests at Plett’s accommodation establishments may not be aware of these details and the possible dangers. In light of the recent shark attacks, our message to the public is not one of vilifying sharks. After all, the ocean is their home, not ours – our main objective is rather to ensure that visitors to Plett are aware of the associated risks of swimming in the ocean.”
According to Amy Holt, writing in the Conservation Mag, 24 November 2021 – awareness and education are crucial to change the perception of sharks from one of fear to appreciation and respect for the beneﬁts that sharks provide to ecosystems and economies. They pose very little threat to humans, she writes. Statistically, you stand around a 1 in 3’700’000 chance of being killed by a shark.
Raw Africa Boutique Collection and members of the newly founded tourism body, Plettenberg Bay Tourism, will look at ways it can support the Bitou Municipality and NSRI station 14 Plettenberg Bay in their efforts to undertake the following:
- Initiating an educational campaign to roll out to all tourism-related businesses to inform and empower front-line guesthouse/hotel/lodge/B&B and home rental staff with the knowledge to share with guests. Not only in respect of shark safety, but also in terms of RIP current information and safety on the Beach in general.
- Educating all tourism-related businesses on the positioning of Shark Bite Kits and Pink Rescue Buoys.
- Training tourism-related businesses on the procedures when alerting the NSRI of emergencies and advising visitors and the public of the importance of saving the NSRI number – 082 990 5975 – on their phones.
- Encouraging people to follow the Plett Beach Watch Facebook page – @Plettbeachwatch – for regular updates regarding sea conditions and other important information.
- Investigating the deployment of ‘Shark Spotters’ using technology such as drones.
- Sponsoring ads in local publications to raise awareness of ocean safety in general.
- Erecting visible signage at beach entry points regarding the risks associated with swimming in areas with no shark nets.
While South Africa’s beaches are considered safe by international standards, many of the country’s beaches do not have shark nets. People should take this into account when swimming, surfing, and participating in other marine activities. They should only swim in areas designated by lifeguards and be made aware of the risks involved in swimming in unmonitored areas.
With its flagship Plettenburg Bay properties, Sky Villa Boutique Hotel, the Bungalow Plett, and Raw Africa Boutique Collection’s focus is, and always has been, about supporting local business and uplifting the local community. Duverge extends an invitation to all local businesses to join in this initiative.
“We’ve pledged to install educational signage and an additional flag pole at the entrance to Hobie Beach, and we challenge other beachside businesses to follow suit. At the end of the day, we all have a responsibility to ensure that our visitors, guests and the public can make informed choices regarding swimming in the ocean – and they can only do so if they are made aware of the risks. Our sincerest condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones in this tragic way.”
Anyone wishing to donate to “Be Ocean Smart” can contact The NSRI Station 14 Plettenberg Bay at 076 932 3963 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.