Just the other day I had the good fortune to spend the day with two “great whites” – fellow adventurer Patrick Verbraecken and fellow “great guide” Chris Fallows.
Chris was guiding us off Gansbaai taking us to see some other “Great Whites”.
Great White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) are wonderful animals. They are one of the apex predators of the oceans reaching upwards of 6 metres in length and 2,268 kilograms – all accompanied by a mouthful of impressive, replaceable serrated teeth.
These sharks have a remarkable arrangement that allows them to heat their stomachs up to 14 deg C warmer than the surrounding sea water while most of the rest of their body remains at sea temperature. This makes it possible for them to digest food even under the coldest conditions.
Historically Great White Sharks have been considered to be coastal species, but researchers have found Great Whites diving to a depth of more that 1.2 kilometres and one shark was tracked and found to migrate from South Africa to Australia’s northwest coast and back in less than 9 months. This is a distance of 20,000 kilometres!
Off the coast of Cape Town, when these sharks hunt seals they sometimes reach such a great velocity in their attacks on seals, that they leap up to 3 metres clear of the water at speeds of 40 km/hr. Chris was the first person to photograph this behaviour. He remains one of the most knowledgeable and passionate marine guides off the Cape Coast.