Posted on Tuesday, 8 September 2015
It’s hard to believe that the 2015 Great White shark season at Seal Island is slowly winding down as I sit here reflecting on the past month’s activity.
August is normally one of our prime months for viewing breaching and predation at Seal Island, but another reason why it is one of my favourite months is that we host many long stay groups and expeditions over this period, and of course these are often made up of regular guests who just like the sharks, return to Seal Island each year.
Being a Shark Fanatic will sometimes make your family and friends think you’re a little crazy, so the great thing about doing a specialised shark expedition is that you are immediately put into contact with others like you, and amazing shark experiences are shared with like-minded people. This brings about an even greater enhancement of the experience as well as appreciation.
The beginning of August saw the tail end of our 10 Day Predation Specialty Expedition. The predation numbers were not as high as in previous year’s expeditions, but we did have three of our most spectacular breaches on the decoy of the season.
We have found the 2015 season particularly challenging where the biggest obstacle has been battling poor weather, and the consequent effect this has had on shark sightings. We think this has been the main reason for a drop in predation events recorded.
We monitored many groups of seals as well as single seals returning to Seal Island in what would normally be a perfect situation for a patrolling Great White shark, but, time after time there would be no predation event.
To make things that much more frustrating the events we were seeing were scattered around Seal Island with very few core areas of activity, and most events where what we call one hit wonders. This is an event with an initial strike on a seal but no follow up should the shark miss, making witnessing the event only possible to the lucky person who happened to be looking in the right place at the right time.
Once on anchor we did however have good shark interactions up at the boat, and everyone had a great time just enjoying these majestic sharks as they gently cruised around the boat and cage.
Over this period the shark sightings around the boat were great on both the morning and afternoon trips, and over a 10 day period there were some very large sharks seen on a regular basis. These sharks all ranged from just under 4 meters to as large as 4.3 meters and included “Scarlett” and “Jigsaw” who are both very interactive females we have recorded throughout the season.
For two hours he swam lap after lap around the boat, each time literally brushing up alongside the cage.
One of the best interactions of the season was during a time when two of our regular guests from Australia were spending time on the boat. On this particular trip we only had one shark visit the boat on the whole trip but what a shark he was! Firstly, this male was in incredible condition and we sized him at 4 meters, making him a rare mature male. Secondly, he was so slow and gentle throughout the 2 hours that he spent with us. And thirdly, he was amazingly curious of the boat and cage. All these things made for a once in a lifetime cage dive and a pretty phenomenal sighting for those just watching from the boat. For two hours he swam lap after lap around the boat, each time literally brushing up alongside the cage.
Just goes to show that the numbers of sharks seen are never as important as how well you get to see them!
As we moved along to the middle of the month we lost a whole week of trips due to strong South Easter winds. I have no idea why our summer wind was so prevalent during winter but I guess that is in line with all the wacky happenings of this season! Fortunately the wind died down just in time for the start of the Great White Trail Expedition. Before heading up to the two other South African Great White shark locations; in Mossel Bay and Gansbaai, the group spent four days with us in False Bay. Each location offers something special so for any serious shark enthusiast the expedition offers a great variety of experiences. At Seal Island we had three very good days of seeing predation events in which we saw a number of initial breaches on a seal as well as a number of longer active chases on the surface.
Another highlight was four very good breaches on the decoy where the Flying Sharks of Seal Island definitely lived up to their name!
After this exciting start the group, hosted by Karyn, headed up to Mossel Bay and Gansbaai where they had great shark interactions around the boat and of course some fantastic shark cage diving opportunities.
During the last week of August we hosted Dr Alessandro De Maddalena and his group for one of his extremely popular expeditions that includes a course in White Shark Biology. Once again we had a superb time with an enthusiastic group who appreciated all the different wildlife we came across. Although we did not have high numbers of sharks around the boat the interactions were good so the cage dives were fantastic. Add to this a number of good predation events it was another very successful expedition.
Throughout the month we have also had good cetacean sightings that included Common dolphins, Humpback whales and Southern Right whales. All our groups got to see some of the species mentioned and they were really an added bonus to an extended stay in False Bay.
As we head into September we are still seeing sharks but the first signs of the end of the season are beginning to show…we are however hoping to eek out another couple of weeks!
I hope to have positive news to share in September so until then.
To read our last three Shark Bytes click on the links below:
July 2015 Shark Bytes
June 2015 Shark Bytes
April 2015 Shark Bytes