September 2005 Shark Bytes
Posted on Friday, 30 September 2005
This is going to be a short newsletter as there is little shark activity to report on from my side. In years gone by the middle of September usually signals the end of the great white shark season at Seal Island. This year was no different and by about the 10th of September shark activity was done to almost zero. We did actually have good sharks at the beginning of the month seeing a fair amount of predatory activity as well as having sharks approach our boat. From the 10th onwards we did a few trips where we did not see a single shark. On Saturday we had a group on the boat who knew up front that it was going to be difficult to find sharks and I must confess we did not expect to see anything ourselves.
But, as we arrived Chris happened to be looking in the right spot at the right time and saw a breach. We approached the area where it happened and concluded that a shark had been successful in catching a seal as there was a slick on the surface and the gulls were taking advantage by feeding on small bits of fat. Although it is now well into spring in Cape Town the weather on Saturday morning was of a typical winter’s day, light breeze from the north, overcast and the pressure low, all signaling good conditions for sharks to hunt seals at Seal Island.
After this first event we were all watching for further action. As I was watching a particular area a shark popped up on the surface and proceeded to feed on a seal carcass. It could only have been a sub surface attack as I definitely did not see any chase on the surface. After this we saw another two successful feeding bouts. What Chris & I found so interesting was that at all three events the sharks really took their time in consuming the seal carcass. During the height of the season competition at the Island is so high with so many sharks being present that successful feeding is usually over in a matter of seconds. So why on Saturday did all three sharks almost lazily feed? We had a thought that perhaps because there are so few sharks at the Island they did not feel there was a threat of losing their meal to another shark. We did observe at least one event this season where a shark successful in making a kill lost its meal to another larger shark.
Now that the sharks seem to have on the whole departed from Seal Island they will start to follow different feeding patterns. As we approach summer warmer currents will move into False Bay bringing with it migratory summer fish and shark species. The white sharks seem to prefer feeding on these alternatives and will from now on be moving with the fish and sharks. In variably the fish and sharks are moving closer to shore and all can be easily spotted from vantage spots on the mountain. Both on Saturday and Sunday we stopped on Boyes drive, which is a magnificent drive passing through Kalk Bay Mountain that overlooks Muizenberg. Both times we spotted a white shark cruising about 2 kilometers offshore. At this same spot there is a dedicated shark spotter specifically looking for sharks and should a shark be in close proximity to surfers and bathers the water is cleared. A lot of the time it is very difficult to easily spot sharks due to weather conditions but at least it is a proactive way to try and prevent shark investigations. This shark behavior is completely normal and they have probably been patrolling this general area for thousands of years. So, do not believe what the media will be telling you!