Sharks in South Africa

Mutual curiosity: William is face to face with a nealy 4-meter long female tiger shark - © Fred Buyle

She sought out William several times - © Fred Buyle

William swims along with a female tiger shark - © Fred Buyle

Tiger sharks in the Indian Ocean

Aliwal Shoal, South of Durban, South Africa – April 10-24, 2008

Imagine everything you’ve learned in the past about sharks.

In all likelihood, you have collected information about these creatures throughout the years, mostly from fiction and the media.

Now, you will just have to throw most of these ideas away and replace them with facts. Here are a few:

  • Currently, there are about 400 described species of sharks. That means there are more out there & we are still learning about them.
  • Sharks have been swimming around our ocean for 400 million years now….. You would think that makes them purposeful.
  • The smallest shark is the Etmopterus perryi or Deepwater dogfish, it is about 20 cm long (8 inches). Bet you thought all sharks were large.
  • The largest shark is also the largest fish and it’s called a whale shark. The Rhincodon typus
    is a plankton-feeder and can reach 20 meters of length (about 60 feet). Bet you thought all sharks were carnivores.
  • As the top predator of the oceans and seas food chain, sharks play a vital role. Consider this:
    • Carnivorous sharks eat calmar, which in turn eat fish larvae. Without sharks to regulate their population, calmar feast on fish larvae. With less fish larvae in the ocean, fewer fish grow into something we could eat.
    • Carnivorous sharks eat carnivorous fish. Without sharks around, carnivorous fish increase in numbers and, in turn, they feed massively on the plankton-eating fish. With less of the latter, less plankton is eaten and more of it will develop in the top layers of the ocean. More plankton means less light reaching the corals. Coral reefs die.

Get the picture yet ?

And if you think sharks are dangerous, although swimming within their territory is not devoid of some risk and should only be done with proper knowledge of the area and fauna, consider this:

  • More people die every year from falling coconuts than from shark accidents. This a very serious and accurate fact.
  • More people die from attacks by crocodiles or elephants, than by shark accidents, yet people think “sharks are more dangerous”. Go figure.
  • Over 100 million sharks are slaughtered every year, mainly to provide the Asian markets with shark fins. Most of the sharks get their fins cut off and get tossed back into the ocean while still alive.
  • At the moment you read this, over 90% of the total shark population has already dropped. That means only 10% of what the normal shark population should be remains.
  • Of the 10% sharks left, only 1-2% reach their reproductive maturity before they get killed. Truly frightening.

Act now. Tell your friends.