7 June 2011
07.06.2011 60 °F
SHARK DIVE DAY!!!!! We chose White Shark Project because I had picked up a flyer at the Berlin Travel Expo. They picked us and 4 other people us from Cape Town and drove us the 2 hours to Gansbaai.
The location is famous for the Shark Alley between Dyers Island and another rock. These are the home for thousands of fur seals which are perfect food for the sharks.
After a breakfast and video we finally get on the boat for a 20 minute ride to the site. There are other boats in the area so we get our hopes up.
To get the sharks to come they make a mix of fish parts and sea water called chum.
They also use a tuna fish head which the guy throws in the water over and over as bait.
It takes a bit of time but eventually 2 sharks arrive and they put five of us in the cage.
The water is absolutely frigid and the two sharks seem to disappear.
We get a few distant sightings but more of less just shiver until they tell us we are going to get out and move closer to the other boat which has sharks hanging around.
We get back in 10 minutes later and get the thrill of a lifetime. The sharks come so close that one bangs his tail on the cage several times. All this time your head is out of water until the people on the boat tell you a shark is coming. Then you get a deep breath and go under to try to see it. IT is hard to hold your breath too long with the water being so cold.
Eventually we switch, 5 more get in the cage and we get cameras for pictures.
At one point their were four sharks gathering around.
At the end we get snacks again and they ask us please to educate people on sharks. Apparently they are becoming endangered. A shark jaw goes for $100,000 and then there is shark soup. They are catching the larger sharks at more than 5 meters. Unfortunately sharks can’t breed until males are 3.8 m and females 4.8. So if they are killing all the large sharks they are taking out the breeders. The ones we were seeing were juveniles at about 3 m.
So here are some interesting facts from their brochure:
The densest known population is Dyer Island, South Africa - right where we are. This is also the only place in the world they are known to breech.
They have the longest recorded migratory range of any marine creature. Nicole, a female great white, was recently tracked to Australia and back. She covered a staggering 22,000 km from Dyer Island to western Australia and back in just under 9 months.
They take their pick of the marine buffet, choosing large bony fish, smaller sharks and turtles, dolphins and seals – or even the blubber of dead whales.
They can go for weeks between meals. With one bite, great whites can gobble 14 kg of flesh and they can gorge on several hundred kilograms of food.
No one really knows how long great whites live. It’s hard to find out because they lead lonely lives and are so migratory.
Great whites have a mega sense of smell and an amazing ability to sense the electrical fields that radiate from living creatures.
These signals are sent to the brain and are read by the great white who decides who’s swimming normally, who’s panicking, or who is wounded. Weak animals are easy prey.
Females are usually bigger than males. They are ovoviviparous. That means the eggs grow inside the female, hatch there and carry on growing until they are born. They give birth to between 4 and 14 pups and may have 4-6 litters in a lifetime.
White sharks store extra fat in two large livers and draw on these stores when times are hard. The livers also help to keep the shark buoyant.
The dorsal fin is as individual as a fingerprint – the trailing edge and the arrangement of notches in the fin is unique to each shark.