Sharks in Africa

ABOUT OUR GREAT WHITE SHARK RESEARCH

The great white shark is an iconic species that is well-studied throughout its distribution. It is one of few shark species to have received international protection and we now know that the eco-tourism value of this shark far outweighs any potential commercial value.

Historically SASC has not included this apex predator on our study list - preferring to focus our research on the 61 other species of Chondrichthyans found in Walker Bay. However, as we continue to study the role of sharks in ocean ecosystems, we have recognized that our work must include all species found in our research area.

Great white sharks are just one of several iconic apex predators found in Walker Bay, but they might just exhibit the most control over the movement ecology of smaller sharks and cetaceans. To better understand this we have developed a non-invasive and opportunistic study on white sharks to further our research on the ecosystem dynamics of Walker Bay.

Research questions

  • What is the seasonal abundance and distribution of white sharks in Walker Bay?
  • To what degree does the inshore movement of white sharks in Walker Bay overlap with increased bather use?
  • Does the seasonal aggregation of southern right whales in Walker Bay impact white shark occurrence and behaviour?
  • Does predation risk influence the occurrence and habitat use of primary white shark prey species?

Research techniques

All research on great white sharks conducted by SASC is opportunistic and non-invasive.  Techniques employed include:

  • Boat-based transect surveys
  • Drone surveys
  • Baited remote underwater video (BRUV)
  • Active and passive acoustic telemetry of primary prey
  • Behavioural monitoring