Last week, Alison and the Save Our Seas Foundation hosted the City of Cape Town’s beach managers on the Save Our Seas Shark Centre’s research boat. The aim was to take the beach managers to Seal Island in False Bay to introduce them to the white sharks they hear and read so much about, but have never had the opportunity to actually see for themselves. The beach managers were from City beaches all around the Cape Peninsula including: Strandfontein, Strand, Camps Bay, Clifton, Big Bay, Mnandi, Muizenberg and Fish Hoek.
Two weeks before the field trip Alison and Yvonne Kamp, the Shark Spotting coordinator, conducted eight workshops around the Peninsula to provide the managers and other City beach staff with in depth and up to date information on our white shark research activities in their areas and to fully inform them about the shark spotting programme.
Photo Courtesy Morne Hardenberg
The shark trip day started off beautifully, with sunny conditions and no wind. Seal Island is a short 25 minute boat trip from Simon’s Town and they were soon greeted by over 70 000 Cape fur seals (actually they smelled them before they saw them!).
March is not the best time of year to see white sharks at Seal Island, so they were extremely lucky that as soon as the boat anchored, a small white shark of about 2 metres in length immediately came to investigate "Frank", Alison’s trusty seal decoy. The small white shark vertically approached the decoy as it would if it were stalking a Cape fur seal, but once at the surface it was very curious and circled the boat about 6 times before it disappeared.
It took almost an hour before they were visited by another shark, this one was over 3 metres and everyone onboard agreed that seeing her was well worth the wait. At first she was a little cautious, but soon realized that there was no threat and started to swim very close to the boat, so everyone was able to get a great close up view of her.
Overall,the day was immensely enjoyed by all, and some of the managers remarked at how amazed they were that the sharks were so graceful and cautious, and even remotely what they had expected!