When did you last see a Cape Cobra on Hout Bay beach?
It’s always fascinating to see how a photograph or video goes viral. Aside from the rapid spread of the item, there’s the ‘broken telephone’ aspect of what happens to the story. In the case of these photos it couldn’t be more obvious that the internet is both good and bad.
These amazing photos were taken and posted by Jeffrey Rink on his Facebook page but at least six different people dishonestly claimed them as their own work and circulated them that way, mainly via Twitter and Facebook. How horrible for Jeffrey who captured this rare sequence of a Cape Cobra on Hout Bay beach this week.
Look here to see more photos and read what Jeffrey says about the incident. He’s become a sensation without really trying!
The photos sparked a fear that all Cape Town’s beaches are full of snakes. This is actually very rare although visitors to the beach along Langebaan Lagoon have reported seeing snakes sunning themselves and moving only when the tide starts to rise and wet them.
This snake is said to be almost 2 metres long which is rather big but it’s rare for a snake (Cape Cobra) to live long enough to get so big because they tend to get killed when quite young. Actually, SA snakes have different life expectancy depending on region, for example mole snakes in the area around Johannesburg are smaller than the ones in the Cape.
Snakes don’t often swim in the ocean but this one may have been wanting to prepare his skin for shedding, according to an expert. Jeffrey Rink advises that he herded it into the bush at the back of the beach. This sounds very brave but is not as dangerous as it sounds.
The fact is there are quite a lot of snakes around, especially during hot weather, but we seldom see them because they are scared of humans and will run away. They feel our approaching footsteps in mountains and countryside, and they hide. It’s only when we stand on them or startle them that they bite. Dogs get bitten quite often because they go after them. Most snake bites happen to trainers/handlers of snakes, not the average person.
The gutter-press British tabloid, the UK Mirror, managed to get a lot of mileage from this story and ran an article with the headline: Is this the world’s most dangerous beach? (actually, the water is more dangerous than the snake but let’s not ask for the truth to get in the way of poor reporting). They managed to get almost everything wrong in that story, including the name of the photographer.
In the end, it’s unlikely any tourists will see this for themselves but it’ll make for a good story next time we drive past this beach on our Cape Point tour, from a safe distance.