Shark Bytes November 2018
Posted on Thursday, 20 December 2018
In this month’s Shark Bytes edition we bring you news from Seal Island and Gansbaai as well as a line-up of our specialised Expedition Packages for 2019.
October is also normally a time where Chris & I spend time in the African bush. This past October we visited Amboseli National Park in Kenya and The Serengeti in Tanzania so I have also included snippets from this fantastic wildlife adventure.
SHARK DIVING NEWS FROM CAPE TOWN
From mid-September onwards we enter what has historically been our off-season at Seal Island. If you have been keeping up to speed with our news you’ll know that the presence of Seven gill sharks at Seal Island has meant that we are now operating shark cage diving and shark viewing trips year round.
As we head into summer we are expecting hot weather and warmer water on these new shark diving trips and as this is something we are not used to we are very excited about these great conditions! On top of this our trips over the last 2 months have had a 100% success rate with seeing the Seven gills. These sharks are also highly interactive around the boat so for all those cage diving the quality of the shark sightings has been very good and for the surface viewers the experience has also been very enjoyable.
Seven gill sharks are the second oldest order of sharks and their lineage dates back around 180 million years, essentially meaning they were around roughly the same time dinosaurs evolved but the sharks have long since outlived them. A dive with a seven gill is truly like diving with a dinosaur.
They are highly predatory sharks and the Apex team and guests have already documented the first known kill on a live seal. These sharks grow to over 10 feet in length and are really different looking sharks with a very recessed dorsal fin, crazy hexacomb teeth and a massive head. What is also fascinating about them is their back spotted body patterning coupled with white spots that are apparently a fungus of all things. The sharks are very interactive with the cage and divers and it really makes for an amazing diving opportunity to be enjoyed by all skill levels.
Gansbaai and Dyer Island
As with False Bay, Gansbaai has experienced very unpredictable Great white shark sightings in 2018.
In early November the infamous shark-eating Orca’s, Port and Starboard, were spotted in Walker Bay and in the Dyer Island area. The unfortunate result of their presence has been zero Great white shark sightings since this time. The good news is that no shark carcasses have been found so hopefully these orca have not had success on any great whites but they do seem to have caused a flight response.
However with the arrival of the warmer water here, the shark trips operating from Gansbaai are having good success with seeing Bronze whaler sharks.
I guess just like the sharks, shark tourists have also become adaptable and we are finding that everyone booked in either False Bay or Gansbaai are equally happy with seeing and diving with other species of shark. If you are visiting Cape Town over December and January we really look forward to hosting you for an exciting shark experience.
SHARK EXPEDITIONS 2019
With Thanksgiving Weekend over its time to turn your attention to 2019!
Apex has a number of different shark specialty expeditions planned for 2019. At Apex we are extremely passionate about sharks and marine wildlife and we know that there are many of you out there that feel the same way we do. By offering these specialty expeditions our aim is for participants to get the very most out of what we know is a once in a lifetime experience with sharks, shared with like- minded people.
This expedition follows various locations up the Southern Cape Coastline and targets up to 12 species of sharks.
Both expeditions are sold out so look out for 2020!
6 to 11 June 2019
If you are a Shark Week Fan, this trip is for you!
Follow the coastline as we look for Great white sharks as well as meeting various Shark Week personalities along the way.
14 to 24 July 2019
This year we will be doing a slightly different programme taking in the best of 2 different locations. Namely Seal Island and Mossel Bay.
This is our premiere Apex Expedition and is limited to 8 people only. Our focus of course will be on natural predation events between Great white sharks and Cape fur seals as well as decoy breaches in Mossel Bay.
Just 2 spots available!
9 to 17 August 2019
Follow the Great White Trail as we search for Great whites at all three of South Africa’s Great White Shark hotspots. Seal Island, Gansbaai and Mossel Bay.
Just 4 spots left!
AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK, KENYA
Amboseli is a small National Park, just 400km2, located in Southern Kenya. It is world famous for its large herds of elephants and the fact that it lies nestled beneath the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro. Mount Kilimanjaro is the World’s largest free standing mountain which towers straight up from the ground to 5895 meters high. This towering giant is iconic and is an extremely impressive backdrop to huge herds of elephant that exist within the Amboseli system.
Like with so many things in nature, a near perfect balance exists within this eco system. Melt water from snow-capped Kilimanjaro is a constant water feed into the swampy areas within Amboseli. This is the perfect place for elephants to hydrate themselves as well as being able to wallow in the swamps and cool themselves down during the heat of the day.
From a nutrient point of view, the soft marsh-like vegetation is not enough to sustain them and this means an almost daily trek from the marshland to the woodland areas nearly 30 kilometres away. The variety of vegetation in the woodlands provide the elephants with the sustenance they need.
As Chris’s photography evolves we are finding there are very specific images that we are now looking for. One such image is of a huge herd of elephant crossing a dry and dusty area, meaning strong subjects against a very clean background.
Such an opportunity is possible in Amboseli as some of the elephants cross a large, dry lake most days as they travel between the woodlands and the swamp area. This has been on our radar for the past 5 years but it was only this year that we were able to organise this specific trip.
THE SERENGETI, TANZANIA
On our last morning at Dunia Camp we were driving in the Moru Kopje area when we spotted a lioness walking in the road just ahead of us. As we approached our focus was on this lioness when I became vaguely aware of what I thought was a herd of Thompson’s Gazelles in the grass on our left hand side. As I was about to point this out I realised it wasn’t a herd of Gazelles, but quite literally a herd of lions! There were just brown shapes everywhere and in numbers neither Chris nor I had ever seen before.
We were extremely fortunate in that the grass area they were crossing was bisected by a road. Fortunately, we were able to quickly drive around and witness the entire approach of this Super Pride as they crossed through the grass and over the road directly towards us.
All three of us, Zewadi, Chris and I, were in a complete panic. We had never seen anything like this and we were all shaking with excitement. I know that I certainly could not hold the camera steady and neither of us had any idea how to photograph this…there were just lions everywhere!! We had long lenses, medium lenses and then wide angle lenses…it was complete chaos!
One of the things that stand out as being the most bizarre in those few moments, was the sound. Normally you would associate the sound of moving grass with a large herd of moving gazelle, but this time round it was the sound of many moving lions!
Once we had calmed down to a panic and they had crossed the road we were able to count them.
43 in total!
It was a true Super Pride.
Super Prides are almost something of a myth and this truly was something I never dreamed I would be lucky enough to see in my life.
To make things even crazier, there were no male lions so this was not even the whole pride.
We have done some research and there are extremely few accounts, past or present, of prides made up of these kind of numbers.
It was one of those wildlife encounters that took days to come down from and I still sit here writing, but not quite believing, what we were so fortunate to see.
Although there is still a little way to go yet, in closing we’d like to wish you all a very Happy Festive Season and we hope to see many of you in 2019!
Until next month,