The Mystery 

Have You Seen Me? Great Whites Are Missing From This South Africa Region.

Aug 31, 2019. 

... Local media reports have suggested that orcas in the bay may be a reason for departure of the great whites, as they are known to predate on these animals. Could this be why they have said ‘sayonara’ to False Bay?

 

Not all researchers are convinced the orcas are solely to blame. Sara Andreotti, a marine biologist at Stellenbosch University in South Africa told Science Magazine: “My worry is that the focus on the orcas is distracting the attention from problems that humans could solve.” Some scientists believe this could be a population-level decline due to overfishing, habitat loss, pollution, or maybe even a shift in environmental conditions or prey distribution.

“While the reasons for their decline and disappearance remains unknown, it provided a truly unique opportunity for us to see what happens to an ocean ecosystem following the loss of an apex predator.” 

It's unclear why exactly the great white sharks left. But False Bay hopes they come back… or who knows what this ecosystem without their charismatic top-level predator will become

Shark Mystery: Where Have South Africa’s Great Whites Gone?

AUGUST 6, 2018

... Marine biologist Sara Andreotti, a postdoctoral researcher at Stellenbosch University, led a study that estimated the total South African population of great whites at only between 353 and 522 individuals in 2011 – making them far more scarce than the country’s well-known rhinos. She cautions that pointing to orcas and undefined environmental changes can move the focus from overfishing by “shifting the blame onto something we don’t have control upon.”

 

Andreotti says that fishermen are “targeting great white food left, right, and center.” She’s concerned that observations by shark tourism operators – who spend more time on the water than most scientists – indicate a sharp population decline since her study was completed, but says no peer-reviewed data is yet available to confirm such a drop.  .

A research program led by shark researcher Matt Dicken has tagged 674 smooth-hound sharks in the port of Coega, about 500 miles east of False Bay. Dicken says that of the 9 tags reported outside the port, seven were from sharks caught by demersal shark longliners.

... The South African fishing industry has been beset by allegations of high-level corruption for years...  There is therefore no upper limit on the sharks that rights-holders can kill. None of the demersal shark longliners have independent observers on board to check if non-target or protected species are being taken illegally and perhaps being transferred to other boats at sea to evade shore-based inspectors.

Great white sharks have suddenly disappeared from one of their favorite hangouts

Aug. 30, 2019

Sightings of white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) have crashed this year in False Bay near Cape Town, South Africa—one of the best-known hot spots of the predators in the world—and scientists aren’t sure why.   

Shark Spotters, a local charity that monitors the city’s beaches daily and warns swimmers if sharks are near, has not recorded a single confirmed white shark sighting this year—not even during the summer months, from January to April, when the fish usually come close to shore.

The boats that take tourists to watch sharks hunt seals at Seal Island, in the middle of False Bay, have not recorded sightings either. Sharks tagged along the South African coast have not “pinged” any of the receivers located in the bay since January 2017, and white shark bite marks have been missing from whale carcasses floating in the bay this year.

Missing: South African Great White Sharks. The Reason: Australian Appetites.

May 4, 2020. 

...

Once known as a great white shark capital of the world, the water is now eerily devoid of any great white shark breaches. The disappearance of this top-level predator not only has ecological implications but economic ones. Shark diving tourism is a growing, worldwide million-dollar industry and white shark cage diving tourism in South Africa developed shortly after the country passed national legislation in 1991 protecting the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) from all fishing exploitation. At present, white shark cage diving operations are permitted at three locations in South Africa, including Seal Island, False Bay. But operators here have been unable to offer snout-to-cage experiences lately because their main stars have disappeared.

So where did they go?

...

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