August 2011 Shark Bytes
Posted on Wednesday, 31 August 2011
August has been a great month for us at Seal Island. The shark activity has been good and we have had the most amazingly warm weather. Actually our English guests have yet again been wondering why they do not live here year round!
In our July report I spoke about very intense levels of natural predation events towards the end of the month. This activity continued into August and in the first 2 weeks we had a number of days with 30 plus events.
Almost all our guests in early August were long stay guests and we all had an absolutely fantastic time.
Like with any nature/wildlife experience you can experience slower days and then firework days and as such we always strongly recommend to our guests that they book a longer stay. Even over a 5 day period each trip is so different but it allows you to get the full appreciation of Seal Island and to see all the different behaviour. On some days the predation activity is awesome but the cage diving not so good, and then on another days we may have great sharks around the boat but few predatory events.
Over the years at Seal Island we have noticed how different each month is. Over the early part of the season we see good activity of sharks around the boat but their feeding habits tend to mostly be scavenging events on dead or sick seals. As we get into July the sharks begin active hunting on healthy seals and this activity increases and this carries through to about mid September. Strangely the more they appear to be in active hunting mode, the less interested they become in visiting our boat. It’s like their whole mind set changes and even the sharks that we know very well display this similar kind of behaviour. For instance “Cuz” was a star shark around the boats in June/July. We saw him for almost 3 weeks and each day he was at the boat being very interactive. He left Seal Island during the third week in July but one of the other boats at Seal Island actually saw him hunting a seal in mid August. So, we know he was present but no one had him up to the boat.
Some other really interesting and exciting news is that we had some great observations of “Bently” hunting. I spoke about this female shark in July. We were seeing her the same time Cuz was at Seal Island, and like him, she is also a very interactive animal. We have seen her for 3 seasons now and we even recorded her breaching in “Ultimate Air Jaws”. (Look out for her with the bent fin!). She is also very interactive around the boat and a real crowd pleaser!
So, between 1 and 9 August we recorded her hunting 5 times. On 3 occasions she was successful (between 1 and 5 August). On 8 August she made another successful kill. It was in very rough conditions and while she was feeding on the surface we actually watched her being completely washed by the waves. I must say she handled the turbulence very well! Then, the very next morning we watched her make two unsuccessful attempts about 8 minutes apart.
During that whole 9 day period she did not come up to any of the boats…so interesting how complex these animals are! It sometimes drives me crazy trying to understand them…
One of the most asked questions we get is “how often do the sharks feed?. It is so difficult to identify the individual shark on these events as they can be so fast but we try our best when we can. Our record was always Cuz who made 3 successful kills in 10 days. Bently is now looking pretty active with 5 events in 9 days, but another very interesting observation was a shark we identified make 2 successful kills in 11 minutes.
Bearing in mind that a healthy and blubber rich young of the year seal is capable of providing energy to a shark for 1 month, we think the sharks are using Seal Island as feeding station to build up reserves. It also seems that their recovery time between events is a lot quicker than we realise.