September 2006 Shark Bytes
Posted on Saturday, 30 September 2006
Dear Shark Lovers!
This is going to be a short newsletter as I do not have a lot of sharky news to pass on.
At the very end of August Chris & I hosted our annual Etosha National Park trip in Namibia. This was my first time back to the Park in 2 years and needless to say it was fantastic to be back in a place that holds a very special spot in my heart.
Not only did we have excellent sightings over the 10 days we also had a very enthusiastic and fun group. Along with all the antelope and such we saw over 100 different bird species, lions, elephants along with the two major highlights being a leopard sighting next to the road and a horned adder (snake). Not to mention breathtaking red ball sunrises and sunsets!
When we returned to Cape Town on September 10th we found that the shark activity at Seal Island had dropped dramatically. Whilst we were away Rob still had a few good trips seeing both predatory activity and sharks around the boat. On the first trip we undertook after returning from Etosha we actually had a good morning and saw four predatory events. Luckily for ourselves and our guests on board we got to see the sharks very well at each encounter including a three minute chase where the seal eventually eluded the shark. In another interesting event we saw a small white shark attack and mortally wound a fully grown cow seal. Unfortunately for the seal she was not killed out right and the shark was very wary of coming back for the death blow. For 45 minutes the shark circled the seal where after it mercifully ended it.
We did a trip the following day as well but this time round we failed to see a shark. Although we did not see the sharks we still observed interesting behavior. We found a whole carcass of a fully grown cow seal that had died due to injuries sustained by a white shark. We have no idea why the shark did not actually consume the carcass. We then radioed the research vessel that was at the Island to let them know what we found. Ironically they had found the same thing, although the carcass they had was only half a full grown seal. We also noticed on the Island that there were two other large seals with white shark bites.
It seems as though the sharks have surprised us again and we have no idea why they would suddenly attack larger seals even though we observed large numbers of young seals returning to the Island at the same time.
We are well into spring now and as the waters in False Bay warm up we are sure that the sightings of sharks inshore will increase again, especially as we are no longer seeing white sharks at Seal Island.
Looking back on the season I have to conclude that is was a very different season to years gone by.
We had excellent sightings of sharks up at the boat during May and June. July was unusually quiet and in the middle of the month we recorded very low predatory activity and battled to get sharks up to the boat. August had a good mixture of predatory sightings as well as good sharks up at the boat. I did feel though that season didn’t really get going this year as it had done in the past 3 years. We often felt that all the conditions perfect for white shark hunting behavior on the seals would build and build and then just before it got going we would experience bad weather that seemed to disrupt the whole process.