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Great White Sharks, Seal Island

written by Monique Fallows

Posted on Sunday, 10 April 2011

Every season at Seal Island is different. This year we have had a great surprise with the sharks making an early return to Seal Island. We think that great white shark movement depends mostly on what they are feeding on. In the summer months most of the shark activity is close to shore where they feed on a diet of other species of shark (smooth hound and soupfin sharks) as well as migratory fish species such as Yellowtail, Kob, Elf etc. All these species move into False Bay with warm water currents. During this time we do not run white shark trips, simply because there is little to no activity at Seal Island. As soon as the seasons change and the migratory fish and sharks leave False Bay the Great whites move to Seal Island where they predominantly feed on young of the year Cape fur seals. This normally happens around early to mid April each year.

In 2011 we have been seeing sharks at the Island since early February which is fantastic news for us! I hope I don’t jinx myself now, but we have seen Great whites on all trips since the middle of Feb.

Obviously some trips have been better than others but we should not lose sight of the fact that Great whites are extremely rare and any way to see one is special. Initially the sightings around the boat have been quick but as we approach the end of March activity is definitely starting to pick up.


We have even had a couple of very interactive sharks that we have not seen before. One is a small male that has more than half of his left pectoral fin missing and then another smallish male that has 2 very bold white markings on both sides of his dorsal fin. We are all going to be on the look out for their return. They are awesome individuals and will be easy to identify again.

We have seen a great variety of sizes ranging from 2.8 meters to a fair number of large sharks of between 3.7 and 4 meters.

We have seen a great variety of sizes ranging from 2.8 meters to a fair number of large sharks of between 3.7 and 4 meters.

Since we have been at the Island in early Feb there have been almost daily scavenges. The sharks seem to be waiting on the leeward side of the Island where they are picking up on dead or sick seals that wash off at high tide. These carcasses are not as good a meal as a healthy seal but they use very little energy compared to what is used in a full blown hunting event. But, as we approached the end of March we have noted a couple predatory events on healthy seals so we are always keeping shark eyes on what is happening around us.

An added bonus to our white shark trips were a number of great encounters with common dolphin in False Bay. False Bay is alive with baitfish which is obviously attracting the dolphin. The schools we have been seeing range from as many as 200 to 1500 strong.

We are all excited heading in April. I would assume white shark activity will continue to pick up and we have a number of Pelagics planned. And with all the common dolphin in False Bay we hold a secret hope that the Orca’s from the last 2 years will put in an appearance.


Great White Shark, Seal Island - False Bay, Common dolphins

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