The crew from the show ‘No Contest: Off Tour’ filmed their final episode in South Africa, focussing on the ‘Guardians of the Waves’.
South Africa (08 December 2023) – Shark Spotters South Africa got to share the limelight with the crew from ‘No Contest: Off Tour‘. The series is in its second season and the four adventurers visited South Africa to learn more about surf culture here and the “Guardians of the Waves”, working to safeguard share and surfers in South Africa.
The episode, which is the final one for this season, saw the crew travel along South Africa’s 3000-kilometre coastline, which is world-renowned as a surfing haven for its majestic waves and vibrant surf culture. This episode, however, delves deeper than the surf, highlighting an innovative and vital initiative – the Shark Spotters Programme.
Set against the backdrop of iconic surfing spots from Durban to Jeffreys Bay, the documentary showcases the coexistence of surfers with the ocean’s apex predators. The Shark Spotters Programme was developed as a response to the presence of sharks in South African waters, a reality surfers have long navigated with respect and caution.
The issue gained notable attention following the 2015 J-Bay Open incident, where champion surfer Mick Fanning’s live televised encounter with a Great White shark brought the issue into the global spotlight.
“The real, honest truth is that South Africa was very sharky. It’s not so much anymore. And for the great part, nine times out of ten sharks are just inquisitively looking at surfers,” says Alan van Gysen, a world-renowned photographer, documentary filmmaker, and Africa’s foremost surf pioneer and explorer.
The Shark Spotters Programme, launched by the Save Our Seas Foundation in 2004, trains and employs locals to vigilantly monitor shark activity from mountain vantage points. Equipped with radios, polarised sunglasses, and binoculars, a dedicated team of spotters watches over surfers and beachgoers, providing a crucial early warning system through sirens and coloured flags.
The programme has been a remarkable success in the Cape Town area, earning high praise for its effectiveness in safeguarding both human and shark lives.
Alan van Gysen added: “It’s a phenomenal organisation. It’s worked really well, and it saved and helped a lot of people.”
In addition to improving safety for beachgoers and surfers, the programme plays a crucial role in shark conservation. The spotters collect valuable data on white shark behaviour and movements, contributing significantly to ongoing research and promoting non-lethal methods for managing shark presence.
Through interviews with local surfers, experts, and the programme’s participants, ‘No Contest: Off Tour’ sheds light on the intricate balance between enjoying the ocean’s waves and respecting its inhabitants. This episode not only captures the thrill of surfing in South Africa but also underscores the importance of sustainable coexistence with nature, demonstrating a model of environmental stewardship that other coastal communities could emulate.
If you are keen to watch it (Pssst: it is also free to view) you can do so here.