It is now possible for you to follow the tracks of the 34 great white sharks tagged for research as part of the Ocearch Expedition by going onto the Google Earth supported site http://sharks-ocearch.verite.com/ 

I had a look today 18 July, Mandela’s 94 Birthday, and although at first it took a while to navigate my way around the site, I got the hang of it and found only 1 of the tagged white sharks is in the False Bay area – my area of particular interest.  A  male shark named Madiba – I kid you not – has been patrolling off Cape Point for over a week.  Madiba was originally tagged in Mosselbay in early March. 

The tagged shark furthest away at the moment is Maureen a female tagged off Struisbaai. She is currently off shore halfway along the coast of Mozambique and still going north.  As the countries North of us with the exception ofNamibiado not have legislated protection for white sharks, she is heading into dangerous waters for sharks. 

The shark scientists are hoping that the information they receive from the tagged sharks will give them clues about where sharks aggregate and aggregation seasons. They are also hoping to get a better understanding of the movement patterns of sharks to better understand feeding and breeding.  Seal hunting activity, for example,  can be read into the frenetic tracking pings picked up by the receiving satellite.   Water users are keen to see if the tagged sharks will give us more info about where sharks patrol close inshore  – how close they come –  which are the preferred inshore areas and when they are active inshore.  Whatever your interest in the sharks is, the Ocearch Expedition has provided ordinary people the opportunity of following the tracks of sharks alongside the scientists.

Note that the sharks position can only be determined when they come to the surface so that the satellites can pick up the ping from the transmitter attached to the shark.  Three consecutive `pings’ are required to record a signal.  When sharks `disappear’ for weeks at a time as they do, it is speculated that they are on a deep patrol further off shore. 

According to reports from the shark cage divers, there are currently great white sharks in the False Bay off Seal Island.  They are expected to stay there feeding on young and inexperienced seals till about September.  In spring the sharks typically  move closer inshore to take advantage of the large shoals of fish especially yellowtail and steenbras moving into False Bay.  I shall certainly be watching the tracks of the tagged sharks in spring and summer to see what they are up to. 

KimK

 Background to the Ocearch Expedition and the tagging of the Great Whitte Sharks off  South Africa go to http://scenicsouth.co.za//2012/04/great-white-sharks-in-false-bay-tagged-for-research/