June 2016 Shark Bytes
Posted on Thursday, 7 July 2016
Two very important things happened in Cape Town this past month;
The vitally needed winter rain has fallen and a few Great White sharks have finally remembered where Seal Island is!
We have also had great weather conditions and this has allowed for a couple Pelagic Shark trips off Cape Point giving us an opportunity of learning more about the cetaceans in mid- winter.
The Great Whites Return!
As we approached early June we felt sure that the sharks would be returning any day but we had to wait until the 12th before we got our first visitor in nearly 9 weeks to the boat. A couple days before this, a few predatory events were observed and recorded however even though there clearly was a shark in the area it did not show itself at the boat.
On the 12th we saw 2 predatory events in the early morning and upon anchoring I felt myself boiling inside with anticipation; it was almost like waiting to see a Great White shark for the first time! About an hour into the wait a gorgeous, curious 4 meter female appeared. I think we were all so shocked at the sight of her (wow, we finally got a shark!!!) that our crew, our guests and I went into complete excitement over drive.
Guests were scrambling for camera’s, masks & snorkels and the crew were just, well we were just scrambling!
This shark was so magnificent and gave us a fantastic show as she graced us with her presence. She approached the bait many times and gave some terrific close passes alongside the cage.
In a strange kind of way the absence of sharks for such a long period really brought home to me exactly what that excitement feels like when seeing an iconic animal for the first time. It is a life’s dream for so many people to come to South Africa and see an animal that has captivated and fascinated them for such a long time and I felt privileged to be reminded again how this feels.
After this initial arrival we’ve had sightings on most trips but a few misses as well so it has taken a couple of weeks to become more confident. We have seen predatory events on almost all the Morning Trips and a number of them have been some high energy chases on the surface close to the boat which has been excellent viewing.
Some guests (and crew) have also seen some spectacular initial predatory breaches on seals so even though there are still not a lot of sharks at the Island there has still been a lot to see.
Interestingly the shark activity around the boat has been slightly better on the Afternoon Trips.
There has been a large 3.8 meter male that was recorded on about 8 different trips and a number of other male sharks in this same size range.
We don’t seem to see sharks that frequent Gansbaai or Mossel Bay too often at Seal Island but about a week ago we had a large 4.2m female that been tagged in Gansbaai around our boat. She has subsequently been seen on another 2 trips so it’s been great to have a “Gansbaai tourist” in our neck of the woods.
Even though we have been seeing between 1 and 3 sharks per trip, the shark activity is certainly not what it should be at this time of the year. What I really want to focus on is how appreciative our guests have been. We have been very clear up front as to the current sightings situation so that everyone could keep their expectations in check and for the most part it has been amazing to see how much everyone has appreciated each sighting, no matter how short, of a truly remarkable animal. Working with wildlife as well as on the sea has its challenges and both are natural elements that we cannot control, no matter how much we want to! In today’s day and age and the constant instant gratification we have come to expect, I think it’s a good idea once in a while to remind ourselves that there are some things we can’t control, but if we appreciate even just the small things we will walk away feeling much happier about life!