Swimmers in the Eastern Cape should be grateful to researchers who collected data over a period three years on the movements and occurrence of great white sharks in the Algoa Bay.
This research has prevented many swimmers from possible shark attacks in that area. As the summer season approaches, data from this research will be analysed to make sure the Great White Shark and swimmers can both enjoy the ocean without incident.
Senior scientists have established through aerial and boat surveys that the most tagged sharks along South Africa’s coastline are found in Algoa Bay.
Dr Matt Dicken from KwaZuluNatal Sharks Board, in collaboration with the Bayworld Centre for Research and Education, says by understanding the movement patterns and occurrences of the white sharks, possible attacks could be mitigated.
“The white sharks are generally found in Algoa Bay, off shore around the seal colony of Bird Island in winter, and they typically then move close in-shore in the summer,” Dicken says.
He says they have to date tagged 73 white sharks which can be monitored using listening stations throughout the Bay.
“We’ve got stations up and down the entire SA coastline. Interestingly so far already we have had 60 % of all tagged white sharks in the country picked up on our stations in Algoa Bay. Some of them that we tagged in PE have been recorded on stations at Port St Johns and even Mozambique. Results to date suggest Algoa Bay might be a nursery area for white sharks which is an incredibly important finding,” he explains.
Great white sharks are listed as endangered in some parts of the world, and protected in South Africa.
The Great White Shark can grow up to six metres in length and three tons in weight. It is not something any swimmer wants to come face to face with.
The director of Beaches and Resorts in Nelson Mandela Bay, Kithi Ngesi says this is one of the reasons why the collected data is important.
“ It is to make sure that we provide safe bathing beaches for our people, and you must remember that there is a tourism aspect to it as well. You can’t have people coming in, be it tourists or people who reside in PE, without us knowing when we will have occurrences of white sharks.”
He adds that the research will enable conservationists to look at the development of the management plan as it specifically looks at the shark research and the conservation status of white sharks.
Great white sharks are listed as endangered in some parts of the world and protected in South Africa.
Ongoing research will establish the population of white sharks, but research over the past decade shows a slight increase.