What has been fascinating is the fact that other species of sharks have almost immediately filled the gap that the great white sharks left behind. In Gansbaai good numbers of bronze whaler sharks (Copper sharks) began visiting the shark cage diving boats and this still allowed for a good shark cage diving experience. There have however sadly been instances of commercial fishermen going out and killing the bronze whalers behind the shark cage diving boats, often in front of young children and guests, a most disappointing and saddening development that hopefully the authorities will put an end to.
At Seal Island in False Bay, the surprise new entrant in the temporary absence of the great white is the seven gill cow shark. This prehistoric looking shark, which is from the second oldest order of sharks known as the Hexanchiformes which date back to the Jurassic period, can grow to as big as 3 meters (10ft) in length, is now being seen on nearly all of our early season Seal Island trips and our guests have really enjoyed the opportunity of being in the water with this large spotted shark.
What was also incredible was that the whilst there are many records of cow sharks with seal remains in their stomachs from what was presumed to be scavenging events, the Apex crew and guests witnessed a predation on a live seal on the 25th March by a seven gill shark. As far as we can ascertain this is the first record of a cow shark actually killing a live seal. We are starting to see more and more cow sharks on our daily trips and guests are really enjoying seeing these prehistoric sharks.
Added to this, large schools of common dolphin are patrolling False Bay and are being sighted on most of our trips. Sometimes schools of up to 1200 dolphin have been encountered which has been pretty spectacular and a definite highlight adding to the cow sharks, 64 000 seals and other marine life encountered on many trips.
There have also been 2 sightings of Great whites at Seal Island in the last few weeks so we remain hopeful that they will start to arrive in the numbers we are used to.
Gansbaai has just started to see the return of a couple of Great white sharks to their shark cage diving expeditions and both Chris & I were very fortunate to see 1 when we visited there 10 days ago. It was almost like seeing a great white shark for the first time and both of us could really feel the excitement that many of our guests would be feeling on their first experience. There really is nothing like the presence and grace of one of the most formidable animals on the planet. We did also have a little chat with him asking him to pay us a visit at Seal Island! Hopefully he takes us up on our offer…