Following our previous blog post on the anti-predatory strategies of the Cape Fur Seals at Seal Island, here is a post which focuses on the different breaching techniques used by Great White Sharks when hunting for prey.
Over millions of years, Great White Sharks have adapted their hunting techniques to include breaching as an effective means to hunt certain species of prey. Seal Island in False Bay, South Africa is home to the “flying” Great White Sharks, and offers the unique opportunity to witness the highest number of natural predatory events between Great White Sharks and Cape Fur Seals in the world. Great White Sharks rely on stealth, camouflage and speed when hunting, and the breaching technique is most effective as it provides the Great White Sharks with an element of surprise as they explode from the water with explosive speed to capture their prey.
There are numerous different breaching techniques which Great White Sharks use while hunting for prey, but the 3 main breaching techniques which we will focus on include:
- The “Polaris” or vertical breach – whereby the attacking shark performs a swift, vertical rush from the bottom of the ocean’s floor towards its prey. The shark will camouflage itself by staying close to the ocean floor as it acquires its target, and will accelerate strongly to the surface using its caudal fin to help propel itself out the water, with or without a seal in its mouth. The “Polaris” breach does not always result in the Great White Shark clearing the water completely, but is extremely spectacular to watch as the shark bursts from the water like a rocket.
- The aerial breach – which results in the shark exploding completely out of the water, with its entire body becoming airborne. These are the most spectacular breaches to witness and often results in the shark completing a 360° flip of horizontal turn in the air due to the momentum reached.
- The surface breach – which is considered the least spectacular of all the breaches. With the surface breach, the Great White Shark breaches itself out of the water in an attempt to capture its prey but fails to clear the water. During this breach you will normally only see the upper part of the sharks body as it surfaces the water.
These are the 3 main breaching techniques used by Great White Sharks to capture their prey. You can read about some other breaching techniques used by Great White Sharks here.