Oceans Research » Research Projects » Project Great White Shark » Current Page
Project Great white shark is based at the Mossel Bay Marine Lab. The project's research is driven by the intense passion that the white shark engenders in the human population.
Sound scientific information, as opposed to emotion based arguments, is required to successfully manage and conserve this species. Project Great white shark aims at addressing critical questions required for the successful management and conservation of this apex predator.
Mossel Bay Marine Lab will only conduct research projects with the permit approval from The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Oceans Research is using photo identification, sighting rate and mark-recapture methods to establish and monitor the population status and abundance of great white sharks and bottlenose dolphins in Mossel Bay (Principle investigator: Rabi´a Ryklief).
Oceans Research aims to assess the effectiveness of dorsal fin identification techniques using natural markings on great white sharks. (Principle investigator: Storm van Tonder).
This project uses a combination of acoustic transmitters and a boat based receiver to track the fine scale horizontal and vertical movement of great white sharks in Mossel Bay. During over 1000 hours of tracking (17 sharks), Oceans Research has discovered the unprecedented behaviour of night time hunting, feeding satiation, coastal patrolling patterns, amongst other breakthrough discoveries. (Principle investigator: Ryan Johnson)
This research uses acoustic telemetry study to establish the thermal eco-physiology and sensory biology of the white shark in Mossel Bay.
This research studies the power and dynamics of a white shark's bite using a bite force meter, custom designed by National Geographic. Since 2005, a data base of over 165 bites has been assembled. The voluntary bite force of sampled sharks varied immensely, and opened up new insight into the understanding of the role of the white sharks bite anatomy in establishing it as an apex marine predator.
This study aims to describe and understand the dynamic behavioural game played out between fur seals and the great white shark. Research into the behavioural strategies adopted by these species will reveal new insights into the behaviour co-adaptation between shark and seal. (Principle investigator: Thomas Mufanadzo).
Oceans Research is collecting stable isotope samples of white sharks and potential prey for a project to map energy flow through the marine ecosystem of South Africa. (Collaborative project with Marine and Coastal Management) (Principle investigator: Keshnee Pillay, DEAT).
One of the most contentious issues concerning shark management in South Africa is shark diving. This industry remains controversial, with many claiming the activity augments the danger sharks represent to humans. Since 2001, this study has been researching this issue through performing behavioural experiments and placing scientific observers on shark diving vessels. (Principle investigator: Ryan Johnson)
The experimental project was developed by Shark Project (www.sharkproject.org) to investigate whether the natural behaviour of great whites could be observed from a manned open submersible. Joining forces with Andre Hartman, Oceans Research scientist Ryan Johnson spent much of 2006 attempting the ambitious goal of tracking great whites from a unique submersible named SOVie (Submersible observation vehicle). Like many breakout projects, SOVie had mixed fortunes, and despite not producing any long term tracks, the project allowed unique insights into the social behaviour of these sharks from an unprecedented vantage point.
During 2003 and 2004, Oceans Research scientists were part of the team whose great white shark satellite tracking project broke new ground with 38 satellite transmitters (20 pop-offs, and 18 near real time) placed on sharks at Mossel Bay, Gansbaai, and False Bay, South Africa. The project culminated with the migration of Nicole (a 3.6m female great white) from South Africa to Australia and back! The discovery was published in 'Science' magazine.