Monday, November 21, 2005

GIANT SHARK WATCH: False Bay, South Africa

The great White shark tagged off Bailey's Cottage between St James and Muizenberg on Saturday, spent much of yesterday morning cruising slowly in circles off Muizenberg beach.

But at other times during the 24-hour period after its tagging, the 4.3-metre predator moved quite quickly several times between Bailey's Cottage and Sunrise Beach, researchers reported.

[looking for a mid-morning snack]

"The main objectives of this study are to investigate if white sharks are permanent or seasonal residents in False Bay, if there are any preferred areas where they occur, if they form social groups, if they prey in the bay and if they do, where and on what," said Environmental Affairs spokeswoman Carol Moses.

"It will further explore if there are any times of the day that the sharks prefer to be inshore and the importance of Seal Island to the white sharks, if there are any possible stimuli that increase shark aggression that could lead to an attack on humans, the abundance of sharks, if there are seasonal trends in the number of sharks in the bay, and general behaviour of white sharks."

A genetic study is also under way with the University of Aberdeen in Scotland to determine if there is only a single population of white sharks in the southern hemisphere.

The larger study has indicated that the "South African" white shark moves widely - they tracked one, named Nicole, from Gansbaai to Australia and back - and is under threat on the high seas and in countries which do not protect them.

Cape Argus - Warning to bathers as sharks hit False Bay in large numbers

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