ASEC’S Focus on May 2019

Orcas swimming and breaching

With May came a new insights.

May came quickly this year; words we say every year, but this year, there was a difference! With the advent of the Sevengill Broadnose at our famous Seal Island, we had a very interesting albeit different season from those we have become accustomed to over the past 20+ years we have been sharing our beautiful marine eco-system, with you, our guests!

Actually, we started seeing this new and exciting evolution to our season from the start of the season in 2018, where we were met with a Sevengill Broadnose Cow Shark at the island in February, when we went out to do our first reconnaissance trip of 2018! This amused and excited us, as well as causing us all to scratch our heads in curiosity.

Anyway, these gorgeous pre-historic looking “wolves of the ocean” the Sevengill Broadnose Cow Sharks, remained active at Seal Island right up until the Great White Sharks returned again; late cow sharkfor the season, the 30 May 2018, and then returned again when the Great Whites left the Island after the 12th August 2018. Yes, this was a short Great White Shark season, but the Sevengills took us right throughout the entire year, all the way into 2019 and beyond.

In May, we managed to fulfill hundreds of our loyal guests’ dreams, by taking them on a cage dive, and though it was not with the Great White Sharks, they had been informed and chose to join us with these, the dinosaurs of the ocean! Despite the collective conscience of this Shark species of over 150 million years of experience, they took pleasure in entertaining us, and actually found great happiness in coming right up to the cage for a close up inspection of its occupants!

Not One Missed Shark Trip in May!

This continued throughout May, with every good weather and sea condition day we were able to go to sea. Not one missed trip throughout May, not until the 26th May 2019, which brought into the channel a different predator, albeit one we have become familiar with, even if, as was in our case, only from word of mouth accounts. Port and Starboard, Cape Town’s infamous Killer Whale brothers, who single handily, almost ruined Gansbaai’s Shark Cage Dive industry in 2017, had come right up into the channel at Seal Island. By the time our boat, the Blue Pointer arrived at the Island; having been the first boat there on that fateful Sunday morning, the “brother’s grimm” had already been feasting on what is believed to be our precious Sevengills. There was evidence of this by the number of oil slicks in the water, and the most incriminating of all, a liver obviously from a fresh kill, still in the mouth of one of them! Their rampage continued for well over 5 hours at the island.

Orcas Of False BayThis held with it a sick, excited fascination; that we had just “witnessed” a very newly discovered phenomenon in nature; (the first documented incident of a Killer Whale eating a Shark, was in 2014 in Canada) was incredible. That they had eaten our precious Sevengills was devastating! But then we have to remember, it’s nature, and all things happen because they are supposed to in nature, when man stays out of the way!

At this time, it is very important to educate. When any shark is threatened by another predator, whether another shark, human or as in this case, Killer Whale, they release a specific pheromone that warns all the same sharks in the area, to vacate ” ‘cos there is danger here”. And from what I have seen, the sharks will vacate that area, from anywhere between 2 and 8 weeks. So with this in mind, one can surmise, that the Sevengills who managed to escape the hungry mouths of Port and Starboard, are gone from Seal Island, at least for the foreseeable future.

Though this is never a nice thing, it could not have happened at a “better time”, as the Sevengills Broadnose colony would have been driven away from the Island by the arrival of the Great White Sharks at any rate, and if recent history was to repeat itself, our magnificent Great Whites should be returning to the Island any day now!   5 day shark cage

We look forward to June and the mysteries it will unfold.

Grinning SharkUntil we meet again, keep that toothy grin!

By Nadine Bentley

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