Great White Sharks

14 Of May - Homepage

With a Cape Fur seal colony of +-4500 animals in Plettenberg Bay, the shark population should be large too. We do have Great White sharks coming into the bay to patrol the colony and beaches for food. We especially see more of them in June-July around the Gap and Cannonball Cave area on Robberg. One interesting note on the Great White sharks is that they are the only type of shark that can hold their heads up out of the water. This ability allows them to look for potential prey at the surface. Great White sharks usually attack from underneath, surprising their unwary prey.

They are amazingly formed killers, with an upper jaw lined with 26 and lower jaw with 24 teeth. Behind these razor sharp points are many rows of replacement teeth. The “spares” move to the front whenever the Great White shark loses a tooth. At any one time about  one-third of the shark’s teeth are in the replacement stage so they will have thousands of teeth in their lifetime. Great White sharks can sprint through the water at speeds of 43 miles and hour (69 kilometers and hour). That’s about 8.5 times as fast as the top Olympic swimmer.

Great White sharks are not picky eaters, they prefer to eat seals, sea lions, and the occasional dolphin, and they’ve been known to swallow lots of other things e.g. bottles, cans, a straw hat, lobster traps, and a cuckoo clock are among the items found inside the bellies of Great White sharks.

Despite the name, Great White sharks aren’t all white. They have a pale belly and dark charcoal-grey back that helps them avoid detection by their prey. Viewed from above, the shark’s dark-colored back blends with the murky seafloor. From below, the shark’s belly matches the light colored surface. That is how they can use the sneak attack method and from at least 10m deep put on top speed to catch the unsuspected pray.

The reason we see very few shark attacks around the seal colony and beaches In Plettenberg Bay, is because it’s a shallow bay, so they prefer to hunt off the Point of Robberg in the deeper waters where they can lay in lure.

Are they “man-eaters?” some scientists believe that the Great White sharks are better described as “man-biters.” In  more than half of all known Great White shark attacks on swimmers, the sharks  have only taken a single bite before swimming away. Scientists speculate that perhaps people just don’t taste as good as seals or sea lions.

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