So, in short:
- Cape Town’s False Bay used to be the place to see great white sharks. Now there almost no sightings
- While government scientists continue to blame the orcas, many independent researchers and ecotourism operators believe it has more to do with recent overfishing of the small shark species that form a major component of the great whites’ diet
- Experts fear the increased fishing of smaller sharks, which the great whites feed on, for the Australian market might be to blame.
The reasons behind the disappearance of such predators are always complex and multifaceted
Dr. Enrico Gennari, director of research at Oceans Research Institute in Mossel Bay, South Africa, who has analyzed the data in Gansbaai and Mossel Bay where great white numbers have remained steady, says evidence exists that the orcas have caused sharks to stay away from Gansbaai for shorter periods, such as weeks or months at a time.
The fact that the decline in great white numbers in False Bay began before the orcas started killing sharks in Gansbaai “is the first big indication that the orcas do not play a major role in False Bay,” he explains. This is backed up by Fallows’ documentation of great whites and orcas peacefully coexisting in False Bay on 42 occasions.
Besides, adds Gennari, “in Ecology 101 they teach you that a massive decline is almost always to do with a loss of food, not the arrival of a transient predator.”
Studies off Australia and South Africa show that small shark species comprise at least 30 percent of great whites’ diet.
However, the struggle to convince the South African government has led campaigners to reach out to fellow-scientists in Australia.
You can help:
📌 by contacting our own Minister, Barbara Creecy and
📌sharing the “Shark Free Chips” website with friends and family in Australia to raise awareness and get help for our endangered shark species