People safe, shark safe
Monwa recalls, ‘When we started, there was very little knowledge among the surfing community at the time. And if there was a shark warning and we got people out the water, it was a matter of 500 people climbing back into their cars and taking off. The beach was quiet.’ This progressed to a point where the beach-goers would get out of the water and then start asking the spotter questions.
‘Now you’re looking at the people who get out of the water waiting by the water, waiting right there for the all-clear sign. And five minutes after the beach has been reopened, you have 500 people back in the water.’
But like any other bather-protection strategy, Shark Spotters is not infallible. Weather conditions, human error and limited capacity present complications. Despite this, the programme remains exceptionally successful and is unique around the world.