Cape Town - Cool-headed Witsand residents have accepted their toothy marine neighbour with some pride and are not about to be scared away from their beloved Breede River by any shark, big or small, they say.

Witsand hit the headlines this week when a four-metre female Zambezi shark, heavily pregnant with at least four pups, was caught 5,5km upriver from the fishing village.

Locals said they were more amazed than frightened at the appearance of the shark, estimated to weigh about 650kg.

For some it was proof of what they had believed for years, after regular sightings of large shadows under the water and mysterious disappearances of fish from fishing lines. Others said it indicated the estuary and river were in good shape environmentally.

"We had a flood in November and since then the fishing has been good," said local estate agent Jo Attenborough.

"In fact, we also had a flood last year and, after that, fishing was good, too. And a Zambezi shark was also caught here at the same time last year."

Nathaneal Brophy, general manager of the Breede River Lodge, said people were generally not alarmed about the shark because a number of whales were also spotted in the river every year.

"This is a breeding ground for them. This is Sebastian Bay and the Indian Ocean flows into the Breede River. Last season, there was a count of 165 whales here."

The shark has been tagged so that conservationists can monitor its whereabouts.