The Unique ‘Flying’ AIRJAWS Great White Sharks of Seal Island

 AIRJAWS

We have had incredible activity the past few weeks at Seal Island in False Bay. The great white sharks have been giving our tourists quite the show. We may make you wake up and get out of bed very early in the morning (and on vacation too!) but I hope it’s worth it to see our famous ‘flying’ sharks hunting seals with a vengeance.

Seal Island is the only place in the world where great white sharks consistently jump out of the water as part of their hunting strategy; the unique topography of the island is the most significant contributing factor to this behaviour. The island’s underwater topography goes from being a few meters deep just off shore to dropping dramatically to 18-25 meters almost immediately. The great whites use this deep water around the island to patrol for their prey. Unlike the media would have you believe, these sharkspredominantly use sight and not sense of smell to hunt. The great whites use the low light levels in the early morning to their advantage; the shark detects movement on the surface of the water from the seals returning from feeding and while the seals cannot see the sharks in the low light, the sharks can see their silhouettes on the surface. When then sharks hit the seal they can reach speeds of 30 mph! Most of the time the sharks look to target individual seals rather than groups, but lately we have been seeing many more attacks on groups. Instead of picking out a single target the shark breaches in the middle of the group hoping to scatter the seals and zeros in on a single specific target after this initial strike. It looks like a seal explosion when this happens, great white shark coming through the middle of the group of seals and seals trying to dart out of the way in every direction!

I love the natural predation activity at Seal Island. The hunting varies so much every day, you honestly never know what you will see. There are a few different places in the world you can go to view great white sharks from a cage including California, Gansbaai, New Zealand and Australia, but only at Seal Island in False Bay can you watch sharks fly!

Shark cage diving around the boat has been amazing this season as well. The past week we have been visited frequently by two of our favourite sharks.  A 3.8 meter great white we have named Blue Fin and a 4.2 meter great white female we have seen a few seasons named Amber. Both of these sharks love to swim laps around our boat and give our guests lots of toothy smiles while trying to get the bait!

Hope to see you out there at the island soon!

Allie Skidmore