CXPRESS chats to Plett shark-spotter Zack Berman

WHEN we tracked down Zack Berman, 14, on Wednesday June 24 to get the backstory of his ‘shark among the surfers’ drone footage that went viral the previous evening (viz: Zigzag mag was one of the first to check with Zack if they could post his vid!), we encountered a friendly 14-year-old Bishops boy who has been using his time in Plett to observe marine movements by way of a drone that belongs to him and dad Saul.
Zack said they’ve been ‘locked down’ in Plett since arriving at their holiday home on March 10, so he’s had plenty of time to perfect his filming and the shark sightings have become increasingly frequent during the past few weeks.
When flying the drone over Robberg 5 in the late afternoon of June 23, he realised that a shark was fast approaching a group of surfers and paddlers.
“I was about 100 metres down the beach from the surfers, so when seeing the footage we immediately called my dad’s friend [Plett NSRI station commander] Marc Rogers, who raced to the scene to get the surfers out of the water.
“But the shark was moving incredibly fast, so it reached the surfers before the NSRI crew could,” says Zack.
Fortunately the curious creature soon turned around and swam away from the scene, but that real-risk scenario made for a breath-taking 31 seconds of footage, which was immediately downloaded by Zack and shared with NSRI head office to ensure that they reiterated their shark warning released on Sunday, urging swimmers, surfers and paddlers to be especially vigilant on the Plett and Jeffrey’s Bay coastlines.
Regular readers will remember a story printed in April last year, when the family Berman - including Zach and his sis Leah - were involved in the rescue of a friend of the family was caught in a rip current in front of their holiday home [read ‘No joke when Joburg teen got caught in a rip on April 1’ on page 7 of the April 10, 2019 edition].
It seems that young Zack in this role as self-appointed shark spotter is continuing the Bermans’ legacy of keeping Plett’s beach users safe from rips and ragged-tooth carnivores alike… shark-vid-23.6.mp4