African Shark Eco-Charters would like to dispel some myths about chumming we heard on Cape Talk radio station yesterday.

What exactly is chumming?

Chumming is a type of scent trail that that attracts fish, sharks, etc, to an area, or boat. It may be man made or natural.

 An example of a natural scent trail is a

  • seal colony,
  • bird colony,
  • a dead whale or
  • seal carcass even dead birds.
[pullquote]Another good example of a man made scent trail created when fish are cleaned on a daily basis at a fishing harbour or beach and boats pumping there bulges.[/pullquote]An example of a man made scent trail would be for an example, fisherman using mashed up anchovies/pilchards with marine oil and salt water to attract fish and or small shark species to the boat in order to catch them. Another chum would be small cut pieces of sardines dropped off the boat to get shoaling fish like yellowtail or tuna up to the surface to make catching them more successful. The chum may vary depending on what type of fish the fisherman wants to attract.

Who chums?

Fisherman, shark operators, research vessels, or anyone wanting to attract fish, sharks etc to a boat.

[pullquote]African Shark Eco-Charters mostly uses a piece of bait for Great White Sharks and rely on the natural chum line from the seal colony in False Bay and the presence of the sharks in the area where they work. [/pullquote]

What type of chum do shark operators use?

For years now we have not used any sardines on our trips. We take a few pieces of bait on our boat. A piece of bait, usually a tuna head is  placed into the water as well as our carpet decoy an attractant. We do not “feed” sharks. Occasionally a shark will take our bait. Bait is actually very costly and we prefer to lose as little bait as possible.

Seal island has a the natural thick oily chum line  from the seal colony in False Bay and so that is a good attractant for shark.

Most operators use mashed up anchovies/sardines with marine oil and salt water. We do not take up mashed bait on our boat. A piece of bait, usually a tuna head is also placed into the water. A permit is needed to use any carcasses such as whale meat, or seal (often used on research vessels for scientific studies). We do not use shark liver. We do not believe in killing sharks to attract sharks.

What we do not use. It is rubbish nonsense that shark operators use pigs blood, pieces of chicken or any mammal blood or mammal carcass. No shark operator uses shark liver to attract sharks.

Does chumming condition sharks to follow boats?

No. If this was true, then there would be scores of sharks following every fishing boat on a daily basis.

Why do people assume that shark attacks are related to chumming?

The media has portrayed the recent shark attacks and the fact that there are shark operators in the area, and have linked them without any facts, when in reality fisherman have been fishing ( and chumming) for years and years in the area where shark operators work, with out any incident of shark attacks.

Has chumming by shark operators caused an increase in shark attacks?

Definitely not! This is a gross misconception made by the media, and because shark attacks are taken so personally by the public, a scape goat is needed to appease the public.

Does chumming condition sharks to follow boats?

No. If this was true, then there would be scores of sharks following every fishing boat on a daily basis.

Why is the media always going on about chumming?

Again, a scape goat is needed to appease the public in the wake of the shark attacks over the last few years, and sensationalism sells newspapers.