Are you team shark or team seal? What does that mean and what difference does it make?
First one needs to understand why the division is suggested in the first place. While many sharks eat other sharks, a variety of fish and other marine life, the abundant seal pup population in areas around the world, False Bay included, have made seals the default meal. Over-fishing and fining of smaller sharks and other fish that the Great Whites prey on exacerbates the situation for the seals.
Fun Fact: Did you know about 12,000 seal pups are born on Seal Island between November and December each year?
The seal’s flesh is fatty and in the right quantities (basically a number of seal pups) can sustain the shark’s daily needs. People pay sometimes obscene amounts of money just to catch a glimpse of a kill or predation as it is commonly referred by animal behaviour enthusiasts.
So how much seal is enough to satisfy a shark, or more specifically, the Great White’s appetite you wonder?
It has been estimated that a young adult White shark requires at least 30kg of blubber per day; given the estimate that seal pups average a weight of 7-15kg, that could be anywhere from 2 to 5 seal pups per day. Sharks, including the well marketed “Apex” White shark infrequently succeed with adult seals- turns out they grow to be quite stealthy too!
So before you start to feel sorry for the would-be underdog, seals prey on sharks as well. Granted we are yet to learn of a seal conquering the Great White but they do prey on smaller species of shark. The prey on penguins too, yes, the sweet flightless bird television has taught us to love.
In the all the population of seals far outweighs that of many shark species, with the White Shark being one of the most vulnerable. Human interference aside, nature truly has a way of balancing things out on its own!