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Spotted Gully Shark Encounter

written by Monique Fallows

A spotted gully shark in Struibaai.

Posted on Monday, 5 March 2012

Every summer Chris & I aim to try and dive with this normally shy species of shark. They live in temperate waters and can be found in the kelp forests, shallow bays and off sandy beaches. They are endemic to Southern Africa but are cousins to the American Leopard shark. 

There are a number of areas that you can find them in the Southern Cape but all areas seem to be very dependent on the conditions in terms of if you find them there are not. After many years we have kind of worked it out. This past week we saw the conditions and decide to try for them for 2 days in Struisbaai.

The sea conditions were flat and water visibility great. And the Spotted Gully’s were present!

It was still not that easy, they are notoriously shy and Chris had to carry out a clandestine operation in order to get closer to them. I initially gave them space but was able to snorkel with them some of the time.

 

 

The sea conditions were flat and water visibility great. And the Spotted Gully’s were present!

Actually snorkelling is not a great reference! They were so shallow that we went in without our fins and waited. If it looked like one would be approaching on their general swim path we would just duck our heads underwater and have a great look as it cruised by. On one occasion a shark was so unaware of me that I had to lift my legs out of the way in order to avoid it crashing into me.  It really was a lot of fun!

There were a number of large Gully’s that were sexually mature (around 1.5 meters)and many of them bore what looked like mating scars. We estimated there were in the region of 30 to 40 sharks aggregated in a small area so perhaps this gathering has something to do with breeding. I know understanding is a long way off but it provides a good excuse to spend more time with them.

For the rest of the summer we will closely watch the conditions and hope to have another crack at it.

 

 

 

 

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Marine Life

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