False Bay Sharks Turn Mean

Weekend Argus, 23 November 1976: FISHERMEN from Gordon’s Bay and The Strand are perturbed about the apparent increase in the audacity and aggressiveness of sharks in their region of False Bay as the summer season approaches.

And an official of the Division of Sea Fisheries – who may not be identified but who is one of South Africa’s foremost authorities on sea animals – believes this may be partly due to the fact that for the first time in many years, there have no sealing operations in False Bay.

In of the most recent incidents, a solidly constructed sea six metre skiboat belong to Dr. Danie Visser and Mr. Herbie Wessels of The Strand was badly damaged by a Great White off Gordon’s Bay last weekend.

A week before this, four skiboat fisherman had a terrifying experience off Macassar Beach when a four metre Great White leapt out of the water and landed on the bow section of their seven metre craft, smashing the steel guard rail to dock level before sliding off into the water.

According to on of the men – Mr. Adolf Schlechter, Chairman of the Gordon’s Bay Boat Angling Club – the shark had been circling their boat for a considerable snapping off small fish as the anglers pulled them to the surface.

In another incident on the same day, Chris Nsetsky and Rian Vyk — in a much smaller boat — spent an anxious 15 minutes watching a Great White circle their boat and dive underneath it after their motor had cut out about five miles from Gordon’s Bay.

“It was a monster all of five metres long and it seemed like an age before we got the motor started,” said Chris.

“Even after we had got underway again it followed us for about a mile. It was not experience I’ll easily forget.”

Describing the incident in which his boat Marcelle was so badly damaged last weekend that it had to be taken out of the water for repairs at a local shipyard, Dr Visser said:

“ There were four of us in Marcelle – Mr. Herbie Wessels, Mr. Jan Stadler, Mr. Swart and myself. We are all big men and we are on anchor which means the boat was well weighed down at the time. We had noticed the shark about 15 minutes earlier but it had disappeared again.

“Suddenly, as one of the blokes was pulling in a fish, the shark came for it. It hit the boat with tremendous force at the bows and lifted it foot clear of the water. Fortunately the Marcelle is made of thick glass fibre, but we found out later that the shark had ripped away the keel band and hull was pitted marks from its teeth.

Dr. Visser discounted suggestions that the shark could have been the Submarine – A Great White of more than six metres which is reported to have been seen over a period of many years in parts of False Bay from Macassar to Cape Point.

An official of the Division of Sea Fisheries said he was not surprised that fisherman in False Bay had brushes with Great White sharks.

“There is probably a permanent group of Great Whites in the bay, attracted by the seal colonies,” he said.

“This is consistent with the experience in other parts of the world.”

The reason for the apparent increase in the audacity and aggressiveness of the sharks this is difficult to pinpoint.

However, it is conceivable that may be due in part to a shortage of a seal carcasses.

During the years of sealing operations in False Bay, carcasses – once the skin and blubber has been removed – has been thrown back in the sea.

This year for the first time in something like a decade there has been no sealing False Bay and – consequently – the sharks may have come a bit short on food.

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2 Responses to “False Bay Sharks Turn Mean”
  1. [...] November 6, 1976, The Weekend Argus reported “a solidly constructed sea six metre skiboat belonging to... cliftonsharkfiles.com/2010/09/introduction
  2. [...] The theory suggested that since seal carcasses were no longer being thrown back into the ocean, great wh... cliftonsharkfiles.com/2010/09/561

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