Chris Fischer and his team on board The Ocearch have caught their first great white sharks for research purposes near Seal Island in False Bay yesterday. They arrived on Sunday and may have caught one or two, but the first official catch and release was confirmed yesterday. Zig Zag Surfing Magazine’s Brandon Kilbride was on the water to bring this exclusive:

“The first shark was hooked at 09:00 and it took them 22 minutes to get it onto the gang rail that raises it out of the water, and it took them another 12 minutes to do the tagging and other necessary things they do. The sharks appear to be lying on their sides for some reason, not sure why this is.”

“The second shark was hooked at 10:40, but it took them a lot longer to land at 45 minutes. They tried to bring the shark in but it got a second wind and there was a bit of chaos at the entrance to the gang rail, so they had to go around again, at which time two researchers jumped overboard into the water to secure the shark by its pectoral fins. Pretty crazy stuff, but if you have watched the Shark Men documentary series, they seem to do this a lot around the world. The shark was in the gang for about 15 minutes this time and it was released, swimming it out by the looks of things through my camera lens. We didn’t see them catch another one.”

“The system they have got going here is pretty intense. The mother ship The Ocearch has two 200 litre drums off the back constantly spewing chum into the water and they bait off the back with no hooks. The other vessel The Contender (smaller white one) was on the southern side of Seal Island also baiting, but with hooks. On both occasions I saw the sharks were hooked behind the mother ship. I presume when the mother ship gets a shark the call goes out to The Contender to come over and put the hooks into the water. Once The Contender arrives on the scene it takes only five minutes to get the shark on the line and ready for the gang rail.”

“One thing I can say is that they do the hooking and transferring of the shark to the gang rail and the eventual release with great efficiency, and one can clearly see that this has been done before and that they are good at what they are doing.

Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the way they have gone about doing the whole tagging operation in False Bay. The chum slick they were pushing out was large and with the SE wind blowing yesterday the slick was heading straight for the beaches along Nine Miles, Strandfontein and Muizenberg.” The SE wind is expected to continue to blow for the next few days.

We will keep you posted with any new developments as the project continues. Watch this space.

Concerns may be directed to the Director of Biodiversity and Coastal Research – Dr. Alan Boyd at email: ajboyd@environment.gov.za, to Gregg Oelofse at Gregg.Oelofse@capetown.gov.za and / or Alison Kock at alison@sharkspotters.org.za

Source: ZigZag Surf Magazine

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