The week started full of anticipation of finding and hopefully tagging one of the 5m sharks seen on Friday evening.
The two sharks were spotted after a long afternoon chumming session during which we had only seen two sharks, however as dusk drew near suddenly the distinctive white colouration of the underside of a great white emerged from the depths. The shark was making a slow but steady and direct approach to the bait. Bigger and bigger it appeared to grow as it made its ascent to the surface until its full body became visible. The huge shark passed the bait and came right up to inspect the boat before descending to the depths again The shark then made a second vertical approach at the bait before inspecting our boat for a final time and moving on.
The sight of such a large shark had left the team exhilarated and when new intern Elizabeth on her first SAMPLA chumming trip joked ‘every shark’s bigger than the last’ no one could imagine what we were about to witness. A second shark made a vertical approach to the bait before pulling out and coming to inspect our boat. This shark appeared even larger than the last, leaving us all stunned. We were lucky enough to see another vertical approach and pass before it became to dark to continue our research.
The confirmation of two large sharks in the area has got team leader Ryan very keen on tagging one in the hopes of tracking its movements and possibly even witnessing predations at Seal Island. This became the primary objective for the team at the beginning of the week, however poor weather forced a no sea day on Monday and the sharks were not spotted on Tuesday. Despite the setback the chumming trips were successful with Fabrice and Vicky taking their first genetic samples. The weather improved throughout the week and we were lucky enough to have two outstanding trips; Thursday morning in which we saw fifteen sharks, a successful predation and two breaches all within a two hour chum session at Seal Island and Friday afternoon at Hartenbos where two large females; Roxanne and another, competed for the bait dramatically. The large sharks are still in the area with around six individuals being identified over 4m and at least two at 5m and it is the team’s ambition to try to have one tagged by the end of this week.
The new interns are settling in well which is of credit to Bev, Simone, Vicky and the team leaders; Enrico, Ryan and Stephan, who have welcomed us all and offered brilliant advice and support during our first week with SAMPLA. Thanks to all.