By DICT’s Marine Biologist, Alison Towner
Inshore shark research
We have had a fantastic few months of tracking white sharks in Gansbaai. In September, we deployed two acoustic transmitters on to two 4m plus female sharks on the 3rd and 7th of September respectively. Without giving too much away, the results from following these sharks around as much as possible (weather permitting) have been intriguing with some behaviour we never expected to see. Night tracks were possible with both animals and we can say that our second shark, ‘Besom,’ was a lot safer to track in the evening hours than ‘Sarika,’ our bigger first shark who practically took us into the thick of a Dyer Island kelp forest at around 2am – in the pitch black of night!
Sampling wise, we are seeing some very interesting trends in water temperature and the environmental parameters, in relation to where sharks are being seen and are not. Interestingly, there is a serious lack of sightings in the shallows in Gansbaai at the moment and tourism boats are only getting consistent sightings at Dyer island. This is very strange for November and something I have never witnessed before. So overall, the tagging project is a huge success and now finally with the research permit in our hands we look forward to tagging a new individual in the next week. I shall keep the blog updated as we go along.
Many thanks to all who have donated this month and for the continued ongoing support from all our members of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.
Thanks also to our intern, Dustin, who has now returned to the USA and will be missed on board Lwazi.
Birmingham Dive Show October 2010
I once again attended this event and this year’s dive show was an even bigger success than last year. A bustling event the dive show brings together enthusiastic divers who can find out more about dive trips around the world, buy dive gear, and listen to interesting talks from famous divers. Lots of shark keen members of the public stopped off by the African Space stand to chat about diving in South Africa, specifically with sharks incorporated into the itinerary!
We raised almost 2000 GB pounds for the African Space fund to help build a children’s hospital in Tanzania, with two lucky raffle winners getting a pre paid trip to dive the sardine run in the Eastern Cape with African Space next June 2011.
My talks were late in the day 4-430pm slot but still there was a great turn out of people wanting to learn more about the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and how eco -tourism can fund tagging and great white shark research along with the rest of the Marine Big 5™. I introduced my inshore research on great whites and promoted the white shark volunteer and internship programs, which went very well. Plenty of keen marine biology undergrads attended the talks and kept me on my toes with excellent questions.
Overall, I am already looking forward to the next year’s show and I am excited about the growing interest from the British public towards what South Africa’s has to offer as a destination both on the land and in the sea. Furthermore, it’s inspiring to see how interested in research and conservation the British public are, so thanks again to them for all their wonderful support.