Robberg Peninsula in Plettenberg Bay provided the backdrop for some “jaw-dropping” footage of great white sharks on the hunt during Discovery Channel’s popular Shark Week programming recently.
The Discovery team had been very busy along Plett’s coastline over the past few months filming segments for their Shark Week programme Air Jaws Strikes Back, which aired on July 30, reports Knysna-Plett Herald.
The team managed to obtain unique footage, using a drone, of great white sharks hunting along the peninsula and succeeded in capturing one killing and consuming a Cape fur seal.
The clip has since gained popularity on Discovery’s YouTube channel, with more than two million views and more than 17,000 likes.
Some of the viewers labelled the footage the “best non-intrusive predation footage ever filmed”. One viewer, Patrick Koning, complimented the film saying it was “amazing cinematography, never seen a shark attack from that angle”.
It is this angle that makes Plettenberg Bay, as a shark-watching destination, special. It has been described as one of the best land-based shark-watching spots in the world.
Residents and visitors have a unique opportunity to see great white sharks in their natural environment and close to shore. Hikers in the Robberg Nature Reserve, especially during winter months, are able to see these predators from above along the route.
Experts say the increase in shark inshore presence at this time of the year is part of the normal aggregation of these animals.
They do this to take advantage of naturally occurring prey like seals and fish close to shore. The timing of their arrival is strongly linked to the behaviour of naive seal pups that start venturing further away from the colony in the area as they explore the shallow waters surrounding the peninsula.
The Robberg Marine Protected Area is home to a large Cape fur seal colony and while juvenile great whites are known to feed predominantly on fish and other sharks, they start supplementing their diet with marine mammals such as seals when they reach roughly 3 metres in length.
Local marine biologist Dr Gwen Penry said sightings and encounters of this nature were not uncommon in the Plettenberg Bay area.
“We have seen a substantial increase in the prevalence of sharks, particularly white sharks, over the past few years. And this is not only in the Plett area, it is happening all along the Southern Cape coast,” Penry said.
One of the biggest reasons for this, she said, is the shifting of marine ecosystems due to climate change and fishing pressure among others, especially in terms of these sharks’ food sources, which is moving from the Western Cape coast to the Southern Cape coast. Penry said that this time of the year, white sharks are particularly prevalent in the area due to the start of the annual sardine run which happens in the autumn and winter months.
She added that Plettenberg Bay was one of the only places in the world where one could stand on land and view great whites in their natural habitat.
Watch the video below: