Everyone was excited this week, as the plan was to tag one of the larger 4 or 5m sharks seen recently and track it round the clock. However, unfortunately the wind picked up, and the SAMPLA team was left with itchy feet doing investigatory chumming trips, while the larger sharks remained elusive and the weather less than ideal for tracking conditions.
The change of plan didn’t slow down the pace though, with multiple encounters with both Southern Right and Humpback whales, the interns managed to get some beautiful shots.
The mood remained high, and although conditions didn’t improve completely, come Thursday morning, despite rain and winds, we managed to tag a feisty 3.5m shark named Tiger after the stripe like scars on her flank. Due to the winds, tracking has only been able to occur for half-day sessions, but the few working the boat on Friday caught up with her and witnessed some unbelievable breaches behind the boat.
The week drew on, and the tables turned, come Sunday, during an early chum turned tracking trip, the crew onboard Cheetah stumbled across a sea turtle, unable to dive, which seemed to have an infection, leading to an air bubble within the shell, or to have ingested something, possibly plastic, which was keeping it buoyant and tiring the animal out making it disorientated and with little chance for survival. SAMPLA director Enrico brought the turtle on board and took it to the SAMPLA aquarium, and is looking forward to the next possible trip to a rehabilitation aquarium in Cape Town or Port Elizabeth, to receive the best care available.