by DICT’s Marine Biologist Alison Towner
Much excitement at the moment! Under the guidance of Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) – Oceans & Coasts – we successfully tagged and tracked our first great white shark on the 3rd September 2010 at 10:30am. She was a 4.2m female (huge) and as we implanted the transmitter we immediately began to follow her movements with our hydrophone and receiver, on Lwazi.
Lucas of Fasttrax Marine got some lovely underwater footage of ‘Sarika’ the shark on his pole cam. After hanging about at a few cage diving boats (for a few hours!) she moved off inshore and started to patrol the shallows of Joubertsdam and Holbaai.
We got around 7 hours solid tracking done on her and packed up at 6pm as it became dark, and we had no shore staff to prepare for a night track – plus the wind had picked up and turned north west, very difficult conditions to track.
We went out again on the 5th with a couple of interns and some technicians/scientists from MCM to get a few more 12 hour tracks on her.
The official deployment of tags for my inshore project will happen towards the end of next week. So this was just to test methodology and get our protocol in place, basically a trial and error period is crucial for any scientific project. This preliminary tagging is a pre-condition to the permit in my name, and it was a great success. We also managed to get some biopsies for genetic studies for MCM.
It’s a very exciting time and something we can all feel proud of as a team. This data is unique to Gansbaai so everything we learn about where these sharks go is new. It is also something I have dreamed of doing since I was a child- so I would just like to say thanks so much to everyone involved and especially to Wilfred Chivell and Mike Gibbs for giving me the opportunity to capture this research. Also thanks to all who have been optimistic about the permit- even when it seemed a far stretch away. I have to also mention how professional and well organised Oli is at tracking and handling the research boat. Let’s now enjoy what the research brings…
If you would like to know more about the internship programme, please click here.