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Shark Bytes

June 2007 Shark Bytes

written by Monique Fallows

Posted on Saturday, 30 June 2007

Dear Shark Lovers

 

Greetings to all, in what has been a somewhat surprising month of sharks at Seal Island.

In the last 4 years I would have to say that June has been the best month for seeing great white sharks in our area around our vessel. We would usually see good numbers of sharks around the boat, 10-12 average per day, as well as fairly high numbers of predations on seals as well as breaches on the decoy. In fact I usually recommend that if people have a choice of a time period to visit Seal Island I would recommend June.

Well, June 2007 feels a far cry away from years gone by and we have had an unusually quiet shark month compared to what we are used to seeing.

When looking at all the environmental factors the obvious difference from previous years has been the weather. The weather has in fact been so bad that we missed 12 days at sea during the month and I can tell you that there were more than a few days where although it was go-able, it sure was miserable out there!

The bad weather is a result of cold frontal systems coming close inland from the Atlantic in the Deep South. These fronts bring with it cloud cover, rain, cold temperatures and large swell. And yes, it is as miserable as it sounds! 

At Seal Island we have observed a definite cycle relating directly to the weather. The most relevant is that shark activity seems to intensify in the build up to a cold front and then slow down on the tail end of the front. Large swell also seems to have a significant impact and seems to effect both natural predation as well as shark activity around the boat. Large swell is of course a direct result of a cold front.

So in June we had a situation were the cold fronts were so close together bringing with them so much swell so that the sharks just really never got going. Looking back at our notes we had a total of  5 beautiful weather days and these were such a welcome change!

The conditions that I have just written about sound very negative but we did still see sharks on all of our trips and we did have more than a few great interactions. A Great white shark is a very rare animal and I truly believe one of the most impressive animals on our planet. Any sighting of one is a privilege and I am so grateful that we get to see them on a nearly daily basis.

The highlight shark of the month was definitely “Bumps”. This is the 3,6 meter (12foot) female that I wrote about last month. We have been seeing her the last 4 years. In June we saw her on 7 occasions. She is a shark that is very interactive around the boat and always gives all of our guests a great encounter, she has a large bump on the right side of her jaw , from which she got her name.

Further exciting news is that one of our favorites, “Cuz” made a brief appearance. This 3,7 meter male has also been seen the last 4 years and we have noted him to be a very successful hunter. We again saw him this month on a seal kill. He used to be very interactive around the boat but last year we noticed for the first time that he was losing this interest. On the two occasions that we saw him in June he seemed less interested than last year. Although this is disappointing for us it is not unusual for the larger sharks to display this sort of behavior. It is just great news for us that he has survived another year and has returned to Seal Island for yet another winter.

In fact the group of volunteers from Shark Bytes got to see Cuz. I am pleased to say that this day was one of the more interactive days for the sharks around the boat and everyone got really good views of  them. A couple of people even had a very good dive in the cage!

 

 

 

 

Chris and I have noted that about 4 sharks we had seen in early April had also made a re-appearance. We do find that through-out the season the sharks tend to come and go.

In May we were seeing a number of large sharks. In June there are two sharks that were in the 4,3 to 4,5 meter range (14 to 15 foot). In fact Chris has taken a photograph of a 4,5 meter shark breaching on the decoy. It is up on Photos of the Month so look out for that one. The shark is impressively big, our decoy is about 75cm long to give you some scale. 

As mentioned the predation activity has been at an all time low. On most days we have not been seeing any events. We think this is due to the weather as well as there just not being a lot of sharks around and relatively little seal movement.

We did have a number of pelagic shark trips planned but could not undertake a single one due to the bad weather. This has been disappointing as we have in the past always had good trips in June. We now will not be able to do any of these trips until at least October/November.

Going into July I guess I am excited about what we might see but also a little apprehensive at what we might not see. I suppose the only way we will find out is by going out there and that is certainly what we will be doing.

 

So, until next month!

 

Best wishes

Monique Fallows

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