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Great White Sharks

written by Monique Fallows

Posted on Thursday, 9 June 2011

To start the month we had guests with us that have been regular guests now for over 10 years. We were really hoping they would get good sightings and over the five day period they really did. Every day was so different and had its mix of good activity around the boat and some really interesting predatory activity.


The high was definitely towards the end of their stay. We had great weather and the flat seas made for perfect shark viewing conditions. After a bit of a wait around the boat we had a couple drive by’s and then an extremely feisty 3.3 meter male. As Woods had been absent I was back on decoy duty. I tell you, this little shark really put me through my paces. He would approach the decoy with a fair bit of intent and as I would pull it away from him he would turn in the direction I was pulling the decoy and then race after it. He really was a crowd pleaser!


As we were enjoying this shark I saw a rather large head and throat of a shark as it very gently approached the decoy from below. The neck and head kept getting larger and as she eventually came up to the surface we got the full appreciation of this magnificent 4.3 meter female shark. These big animals do not normally stay around the boat for long and it is rare for them to be interactive. But, she was a beauty and did about 6 great passes. She was so relaxed it appeared she was moving in slow motion and we got a great look at her sheer girth. She is definitely the biggest shark we have seen in 2011 and we hope that some of her fellow sized toothy friends do us the same great favour by visiting “White Pointer”.


Activity was slowly on the increase and by 17 May we embarked on our first dedicated 10 Day Expedition of the Great White Shark season. This trip was hosted by Dr Neil Hammerschlag and the focus of the trip was to see a variety of shark species including Great whites, Mako & Blue sharks and sevengill cow sharks.  The beauty of having the same people on the boat each day means that we can focus on getting the most out of a 10 day period with a specific goal each day. It is also so much fun when the group bonds and most times everyone walks away friends for life having shared very special sharky moments together.


Again, every day was so different and overall we had great shark activity around the boat. On one particular day we had a 3.8meter shark for virtually the whole morning. She was just amazing and as she was completely comfortable around the boat she made continuous close passes at the cage. Everyone on board was thrilled to experience a shark like this.


We also had other sharks that would do my favourite “white belly” approaches. It is pretty rare to see the blazing white belly of a great white so when they do steep vertical approaches to the decoy or bait it is very beautiful. 

The neck and head kept getting larger and as she eventually came up to the surface we got the full appreciation of this magnificent 4.3 meter female shark.

Although we did not have too many high flying breaches we did get to see some interesting predation events. One event in particular took place not more than 2 meters from the side of the Island. As the swell pushed away from the Island the shark actually glanced the rocks. One of our team members would spend the morning just looking for predations and she was the lucky one to see this very rare event. There were a lot more predatory events on the shallow side of the Island which seems to follow the trend so far this season.


Some very exciting news is the return of “Shy Guy”. This is a just under 4 meter male and is called Shy Guy for a specific reason. He has a damaged tail which is easy to identify once he makes a seal kill and he is feeding on the surface. In 8 seasons of recording his hunting behaviour he has only approached our boat in a baited situation once. So, he is obviously a shark that is just not interested in boats. We did not see him in 2010 so you can imagine our excitement when we spotted him on 21 May, of course on a predation event. Chris, Poenas and myself where screaming like little kids in our excitement! Luckily our group knew us well by this time and did not think we were too mad!


We did manage one very good pelagic trip with the group and although it was not the flattest sea day we had 2 mako sharks to the boat and about 5 blue sharks. Everyone got to see both species while diving so it was another 2 sharks notched up for the trip.


The group also had two great dives with The sevengill cow sharks. This is a unique dive in False Bay where there is an opportunity to dive with Sevengills in shallow water in the kelp forest. It is a world class dive and we highly recommend this for anyone who is a shark fanatic or photographer.


So, the expedition was an amazing success and everyone at Apex was really sad to say goodbye to all the team members. A special thank you to Dr Neil Hammerschlag for organising the trip.


Great White Shark Predation, Seal Island - False Bay

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