July 2011 Shark Bytes
Posted on Sunday, 31 July 2011
Dear Shark Lovers,
July is in stark contrast to June and this time I am sitting down to write feeling excited about everything I have to tell you!
Right from the 1st of July the shark activity has been fantastic. The numbers of sharks around the boat started building each day which is normally a sure sign that the horizon looks positive.
“Cuz” was an absolute superstar in the first 10 days and we saw him almost every day. His behaviour was so interesting. We did not see him in 2010 and just once in 2009. On that occasion in 2009 he was not interactive around the boat so it was very unlike him. When I mentioned we had seen him at the end of June he was back to behaving the way we know him to be.
As I already mentioned, in July he was fabulous and just loved slowly cruising around the boat again, and again, and again. He loves coming close to the cage so our divers had a fabulous experience with him and those lucky enough to see him all fell in love with this particular Great White Shark!
Although he has not grown much in the last 2 years he is still looking in really good shape and I wonder if the next season we see him (fingers crossed!) he would have gone through a growth spurt.
We also had the return of the notorious “RoundFIn”. He is smallish male of about 3.2 meters and was one of the stand out sharks in 2009. In 2010 we only saw him once and again in July this year we had him around the boat once and also a great breach on the decoy.
I say Roundfin is notorious as he is very confident around the boat and really goes for the bait. He also broke two underwater housings (on pole cameras) in 2009, one of which belonged to Chris!
Roundfin was around the boat the same time as Cuz so I must say he was a little more relaxed than usual. However, as soon he had a bit of space to himself we were treated to the sneaky speed we are used to from him.
The third well know shark to return this July was “Bently”. She is a medium sized female we have seen for 3 seasons now. As her name suggest she has a dorsal fin that bends quite obviously to the right. She was at the Island for about 10 days so we had some great interactions with her too.
Another bit of good news is that our old friend “Shy Guy” was recorded hunting twice successfully, but as usual, no visit to the boat!
As early and middle of July got underway the numbers of shark kept increasing and we had a number of trips with 12 sharks recorded at the boat, quite something after our dismal June. One particular trip is worth mentioning where we saw 10 sharks at the boat, a breach on the decoy, a brydes whale, 400 common dolphin, 2 Southern Right whales, and the sea was as flat as a lake! All the guests on board were nature and shark lovers so I was thrilled they got to experience such an amazing array of wildlife.
Our premier trip of the year is our 10 Day Predation Specialty Expedition. As the name suggests we spend most of our focus over the 10 days looking for natural predatory events and as such we schedule the dates over what is historically the best time period for this.
We had a wonderful group of people join us this year and everyone was so excited for the 10 days to follow.
The first day out we had the roughest seas we have had for a while and we had to battle the first day out with 1 shark sighting... Days 2, 3 and 4 were nothing but gale force South Easter winds that kept us off the water. This is our summer wind so it is bizarre that we would have this strength of wind for so many days. Chris & I love wild weather and one of the positives to this “summer storm” meant we got to witness some massive waves breaking over Kalk Bay Harbour. It only happens like this once, maybe twice a year. This time it was spectacular and we all spent a good amount of time, not only freezing out in the elements but being blown away, quite literally, by watching the amazing force of nature at work.
This bad weather kept us off the water and Day 5 was another very rough day at sea. Even though we were having a tough time our group were so understanding about everything and still made the most of each shark sighting we had.
We started making up the missed morning trips in the afternoons and by the afternoon of Day 5 it seemed the sharks were back in numbers at Seal Island.
Over the course of the next 5 days we recorded an absolutely massive 238 natural predatory events, with our highest morning being 37 events.
I hope all of you can appreciate how intense this hunting behaviour was and that this type of natural history is hard pressed to be duplicated anywhere on the planet.
What was even more special is that some of the events we witnessed close hand were simply so spectacular that my throat hurt from the emotional outburst upon seeing a nearly one ton animal launching completely out the water, sometimes with a seal balancing on its nose as it tried to escape. In fact some of the events were some of the best we have ever seen with multiple breaches at an event.