Caught with local shark researcher Matt Dicken at the Beach Forum meeting this week. Nice, we scored an upgrade for this meeting and had it in the conference room at the new Town Lodge hotel over the road from Hummies. Flip, these guys have a rad view. Johnny and I jumped in the glass-fronted lift for a quick sight-seeing trip to the 6th floor. Definitely coming back with my camera next time.
Anyhow, back to the catch up with Matt. As yet they haven't managed to get any tags into some Whites yet - as they just haven't been able to catch any of the critters! Just not much activity around Bird Island this time of year, as all the whites are actually cruising about the inshore area's.
Sure everyone can remember Etienne's aerial shot of a big lurker off the backline north of here from a few weeks back (see below). I put Matt and ET in touch and thanks to ET for taking the time out to go see Matt and give him plenty of feedback on what he's been seeing on his flights. It really gives the researchers a useful piece of their puzzle when anecdotal reports are corroborating what the results of their research are saying - cos both Matt and ET have been spotting the whites in similar area's.
Matt says the National Geographic guys will be in town soon doing another shark program, and will be spending a few days out on the boat - so they're hoping to get some tags in then. Plan is to have all 20 tags that they've had funded into sharks by mid-year - and then the tracking can begin. Our tagged sharks can get picked up by any of the listening stations along the SA coast, just as our listening stations will pick up if a Mossel Bay or CT shark pulls in here for a visit. (Read more about the Algoa Bay White Shark Project here.)
There's been quite a few sightings reported recently in the bay, with some big ou's spotted just off backline from Hummies through to Cobbles. I spotted a big fin about 200m off Hummies about 2 weeks back, which was also seen by fellow surfers out in the water with me. The guys at Fence had 2 interesting days where a big bronzie burst out the water right near them with a skate lunch in his mouth. Ou's bailed the line-up pretty pronto! Also had a surfski came flying through the line-up at Pipe telling the ou's to bail as he'd spotted a lurker out in the backline. When I was shooting the kites at Millers last month a guy came in saying he'd nearly ridden over a big shark at Chomp Rock, and decided to call it a day.
The guys in the reserve have reported seeing plenty of activity that way too, which has everyone a lil edgy and not so comfortable dangling their toes off their boards. A guy I was surfing with at Millers a few weeks back has some angler mates who had a really gnarly encounter near the beacon at Cobbles. They waded out over the flat reef into hip deep water whilst fishing for cob. Hooked a good size one, but as they were bringing it in and had a coupla meters away a shark came and grabbed it off his line. Not content with the cob, it turned it's attention to the two anglers, who then had to use the butts of their rods to fend it off. Shew, guess their heart-rates musta been clocking it after that!
Hopefully within the next coupla months the shark activity will move back offshore again, as they move back toward the Bird Island area for their seal pup buffet. But til then, be sensible, and be alert.