Connect with us
background

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

All about Sharklife

Published

on

There is nothing quite like seeing an apex predator in the wild and divers are very fortunate to have the privilege to get up close and personal with one of the world’s most striking predators. South Africa is home to a great number of shark species that attract thousands of tourists every year. Great Whites, Tigers and Bull sharks are just some examples of over 100 different shark species living in the oceans around the South African coastline.

With such an array of species, it’s no wonder there are so many research and conservation organizations in the country that do exceptional work. These entities are collecting important data that is showing how important the shark species is, not only the ocean’s survival, but that of mankind too.

So, what’s the big deal, they’re just fish with teeth?

Sharks have an undeserved reputation as being man-eaters. Considering the millions of people that use the ocean everyday whether for recreational or occupational use, as few as 10 people die from shark interactions annually. If they were the man-eaters we made them out to be, that number would be much higher. More people die from accidents with household appliances in one year than people have died from sharks in the last 100 years.

The shark is an important part of the ocean’s ecosystem, but more importantly it’s their role in the survival of the planet we need to be concerned about. With an estimated 100 million sharks being killed every year, ocean ecosystems around the world have been severely destabilized and unbalanced. Sharks help maintain a healthy gene pool by predating on the weakest of their prey, ensuring the strongest survive to continue the species.

If we wiped out the Great White Shark population in South Africa, there would be an abundance of seals, this growing population of seals, now the new apex predator in the area, would very soon consume to a point of extinction many crustaceans and small bait fish resulting a complete collapse of many fishing industries and worse, the collapse of an entire ecosystem.

Education about the importance of sharks and changing people’s perception of sharks are small actions that can make positive change. An organization that has been working hard to educate people about sharks is “Sharklife”.

I recall becoming a Sharklife Instructor in 2008 when the organization had just started offering a range of courses on several of the shark species found in South Africa. Courses were offered on specific sharks and required a number of dives to study the shark’s behavior and unique characteristics. One of the challenges we faced as instructors was guaranteeing shark sittings on training dives. Some sharks are much easier to encounter reliably than others.

We had some interesting dives experimenting with different non-invasive methods of attracting sharks for our students to study. The most noteworthy of these experiments was trying find what would attract Bull Sharks. These elusive predators can be very inquisitive and engaging which made for some exciting learning experiences.

Today Sharklife has a permanent base in Sodwana Bay, South Africa. At the current premises, Grant Smith, Sharklife managing director, oversees a number of research projects and conducts research internships for candidates from all over the world. In addition to the various shark courses on offer, there is a shark museum with some fascinating displays and shop where you can purchase a host of different shark related products.

Sharklife Objective:

Through scientific research, education and awareness bring about positive change to the current destructive trends of ocean exploitation.

Sharklife Current Aims:

  1. To develop a compassionate desire to conserve sharks by altering public misconceptions about sharks and replacing the “Jaws” syndrome with positive understanding and respect.
  2. Reduce anthropogenic threats to over exploited marine species by increasing awareness and encouraging sustainable seafood choices.
  3. Increase marine tourism and transform shark populations into a sustainable living resource by developing educational ocean experiences for all South African’s

In line with aim number 2, one of their achievements was the removal of shark nets in the Rocky Bay area in Kwa-Zulu Natal. An initiative that started in 2008 and took years of relentless campaigning resulted in the removal of the shark nets in this Marine Protected Area. The capture of 14 Tiger Sharks on the 18th April 2012 was a catalyst that renewed efforts for the lifting of the nets and on the 30th April 2014 the nets were lifted for the last time.

More information about this campaign can be found here: https://www.sharklife.co.za/index.php/our-projects/completed-projects/shark-net-removal

How can you get involved?

Visit their website, www.sharklife.co.za and sign up for free shark course. You can even adopt a shark and join as a monthly member.

Regardless of the organization you support, something has to be done before it really is too late to turn back and recover. There are hundreds if not thousands of initiatives out there to get involved with or contribute to and I know all of them appreciate the smallest donation of time or money.

Personally, I would hate to never again see the wonder in a diver’s eyes when they interact with a shark for the first time.


Article by PJ Prinsloo – www.pjptech.co.za

Since becoming an instructor in 1996, PJ has had many different roles in the scuba industry. Before joining RAID as the technical training director for Southern Africa, he was the regional manager for SDI/TDI. PJ has written and contributed to a number of courses for RAID. When he is not teaching, he is involved in a various diving projects in Africa and Europe. Find out more at www.pjptech.co.za

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Creature Feature: Porbeagle

Published

on

In this series, the Shark Trust will be sharing amazing facts about different species of sharks and what you can do to help protect them.

This time we’re showcasing the robust Porbeagle, one of the only known sharks that may love to play..

Shaped like a rugby ball, this muscular stocky shark is incredibly hydrodynamic and built for endurance. Dark grey-blue in colour with a white belly, they have a pointed snout and large black eyes.

Porbeagle’s belong to an elite group of sharks known as the mackerel sharks. These include some of the most powerful and agile sharks in the world, such as the White Shark and Shortfin Mako. This group are endothermic, so can keep themselves nice and warm, due to a remarkable adaptation known as a rete mirabile. This makes them more efficient hunters and able to tolerate colder waters.

Porbeagle’s look a lot like White Sharks, so are often mistaken for them. As they’re found in UK waters, this has led to many false reports of White Sharks in the UK. But Porbeagle’s are around half the size. Although still a large shark, the biggest Porbeagle on record is 3.6m. While the largest White Shark is 6m.

Found worldwide in cold-temperate waters, Porbeagle’s are strong swimmers. Travelling thousands of miles in search of food and to give birth. One individual, tagged in Irish waters, journeyed over 2,000 miles to Newfoundland in Canada. A known mating ground for Porbeagle’s.

Porbeagle’s may live on their own, or in small groups made up of similar sized or same sex individuals. With males and females coming together usually in September-November to mate. Yet in some places this can take place in January.

These sharks reproduce slowly, so are extremely vulnerable to destructive fishing. Females take 12-16 years to reach sexual maturity, males 6-10 years. After 8-9 months, females will give birth to litters of just 1-5 pups, which are relatively large at 60-80cm long.

Two distinct populations exist – the north Atlantic and south Pacific. Individuals from these areas don’t seem to mix, resulting in key differences. North Atlantic Porbeagle’s get a lot bigger, and don’t tend to live as long as those in the south Pacific.

During the day Porbeagles tend to spend their time in deeper waters, rising to the surface at night. They’re opportunistic feeders, mostly eating small fish – such as mackerel, whiting and herring – as well as octopus, squid and cuttlefish.

Highly inquisitive, Porbeagles have been seen chasing each other, rolling at the surface, and even pushing around floating objects and kelp. Could they be playing? Currently there are no scientific studies to back this up. But what an interesting study that would be…!

  • SCIENTIFIC NAME: Lamna nasus
  • FAMILY: Mackerel Sharks (Lamnidae)
  • MAXIMUM SIZE: 3.6m
  • DIET: Small fish & squid
  • DISTRIBUTION: Wide-ranging in temperate waters (except North Pacific).
  • HABITAT: Coastal and oceanic waters from 0-1,800m deep. Prefers temperatures below 18°C but can tolerate -1–23°C.
  • CONSERVATION STATUS: Vulnerable

For more amazing facts about sharks and what you can do to help the Shark Trust protect them visit the Shark Trust website by clicking here.

Header Image: Doug Perrine / Alamy

Continue Reading

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Top Destinations to dive with Manta Rays

Published

on

In their mission to create a billion Torchbearers to explore and protect the ocean, PADI is encouraging divers to seek adventure and experience first-hand the vital eco-systems below the surface of the ocean.

To further raise awareness of this mission on International Manta Ray Day (17 September 2021), PADI has rounded up the top destinations in the world that are currently open to divers.

Machadilla National Park, Isla de la Plata, Ecuador

Diving in Ecuador offers a special paradise for scuba divers, in which the chance of encountering marine species nowhere else on earth is extremely high due to the heavy currents and nutrient rich waters. And for those keen to dive with manta rays, head out with PADI 5 Star Dive Center Exploramar Diving, or PADI 5 Star Dive Center Mares Ecuador here they take divers out to Machadilla National Park in Isla de la Plata for a chance to greet these graceful creatures every July to September.

Find out more with PADI’s Dive Guide for Ecuador

Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

Hawaii’s volcanic origins and isolated geographical location makes for a whirlwind of scuba diving encounters underwater, with manta ray encounters being likely all year long. For those looking for an extra special experience,  PADI 5 Star Dive Center Jack’s Diving Locker offers a manta ray night dive and a PADI Distinctive Specialty Course called Manta Ray Diver, which covers everything from the manta ray anatomy to cleaning habits, reproduction and how to identify individual rays in the local population.

Find out more with PADI’s Dive Guide for Hawaii

Bryon Bay, Australia

For those who are currently in Australia, they can have their backyard manta ray encounter with PADI 5 Star Dive Center Sundive Byron Bay. The summer months of December to May bring manta rays to the nearby Julia Rocks Marine Reserve, which National Geographic once acknowledged as one of the top 20 dives in the world.

Find out more with PADI’s Dive Guide for Australia

Manta Point, Nusa Penida, Bali

The name speaks for itself. Manta Point in Bali is a haven for manta rays all year long, with the best time to see them being from April to May. PADI 5 Star Dive Center and Resort  Scuba Junkie Penida  offers the ultimate manta ray diving experience in the area, adding coral dives and drift dives to the day’s adventure.

Find out more with PADI’ Dive Guide for Bali

Komodo National Park, Labuan Bajo, Indonesia

One of Indonesia’s most famous diving destinations is also one of the best places to dive with manta rays! PADI 5 Star Dive Resort Blue Marlin Komodo is the perfect place for a manta ray holiday, where divers can stay at the dive resort while getting their PADI Open Water Diver certification and then hop aboard their dive vessel for a day of diving out at sea with manta rays!

Find out more with PADI’s Dive Guide for Indonesia

Six Senses Manta Point, Laamu Atoll, Maldives

Crystal clear warm waters, white sandy beaches and manta rays—PADI 5 Star Dive Resort Six Senses Laamu offers the ultimate luxurious manta ray holiday. As the only dive resort in the Laamu Atoll, divers of all levels will have extremely personable encounters with manta rays every month of the year in this world-class diving area.  There are also more than 180 PADI Dive Centers and Resorts in the Maldives that can take divers out to have a manta ray encounter.

Find out more with PADI’s Dive Guide for the Maldives

Azores, Portugal

The islands that make up the Azores off the coast of Portugal are one of the most diverse for marine life. One  specific type of manta rays known as the Mobula birostris is known tohang out in large groups around the island of St. Maria between June and October, with PADI 5 Star Haliotis Dive Center offering guided boat trips to the island.

Find out more with PADI’s Dive Guide for Portugal

Diving with whale sharks and manta rays can make a difference in protecting these incredible species for future generations – dive tourism encourages protection from local communities and governments. But its important to always adhere to local guidelines and best practices to ensure these creatures’ well-being is always at the forefront. PADI dive operators understand the importance of using the proper equipment, the time of day to dive with sharks, and the maximum number of operators that should be on the water at any given time. To learn more about responsible shark and ray tourism and other ways you can support the protection of these incredible animals, visit padi.com/aware/sharks.

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Competitions

Egypt | Simply the Best Itinerary | 14 – 21 October 2021 | Emperor Echo

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. Great value for money and perfect for small groups of buddies with a ‘Book 5 and 1 dives for FREE’ offer all year round.

Price NOW from just £1175 per person based on sharing a twin cabin/room including:

  • Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox

Subject to availability.
Alternative departure airports available at supplement.

Email info@diversetravel.co.uk to find out more!

More Less

Instagram Feed

Popular