Time really does fly when you are having fun Monday morning and we met up with Oli and got given our intern tasks for the week, then we went out to the shore to collect shark eggs from the local species of benthic elasmobranchs. We collected 169 egg cases in total.
Part of the research being carried out is to look at other species in this ecosystem and to see how they interact with the Great Whites. Smaller species of shark such as the different species of catsharks live around the many reef systems where the Great Whites spend their summer months, so its good to get a idea of the complete ecosystem.
In the afternoon we had a lecture from Pieter who is the head crew member on the boat, his lecture gave us more details about Slashfin.
Tuesday we spent the morning on Slashfin, and Evil Fin stopped by to say hello. It was great to be able to tell the clients that we had seen her on the research boat and then lead into telling them about the research being carried out by Marine Dynamics. In the afternoon me and Karen (another intern) set about identifying and quantifying the shark eggs collected, and did some basic analysis on them; over 50% of eggs were from a single species of shark: the Pyjama Catshark.
Wednesday we spent the whole day on Lwazi tracking Anarchy a 3.5m female Great White Shark. She spent the whole time following a pod of Southern Right Whales including a couple of calves who were breaching and flipper waving, which was a treat to see. While tracking we got trained on using the omni directional, and directional hydrophones, data recording and how to drive the boat.
Thursday the new shark cage was operational so I got to go out with the crew in the morning and test out the cage and make suggestions on how to improve it, then on the morning Slashfin trip I got to go in and try out the new cage, as well as getting to see some big sharks pass right by the cage it was really fun. On the way to Shark Ally we saw a shoal of Snook started jumping out of the water while hunting sardines. The waters here really are rich with wildlife its amazing to see everything so close. The afternoon was spent
tracking Anarchy again, we also saw Poseidon – a 3m male Great White with a satellite tag. We got the decoy out but he was more interested in looking at the hydrophone and then at the same time a 4m shark showed up to have a look at what was happening. The sharks really are curious and cautious about anything new in their environment. You can see them looking and thinking all of the time which is amazing to see. Today Anarchy spent most of her time near the bottom of the seabed in very shallow water (3-2.5m water depth!).
Friday was spent the morning on Slashfin, the sharks took a little bit of time to show up but when they did they started off cautious but by they end there confidence had grown and they were jumping out of the water at the bait and decoy. The afternoon we did another track on Lwazi, we found Anarchy immediately as soon as we put the hydrophone in the water, however tracking was not as straight forward as sea conditions were a bit more wavy today than previous days so we could not track her for as long. At the end of the trip we stopped to watch a pod of Whales breaching and swimming near us before heading back for the day.