Shark Mystery
August 9, 2018 5:15 PM   Subscribe

Where Have South Africa’s Great Whites Gone? "The world’s most famous sharks are the great whites off Cape Town, featured in the popular “Air Jaws” series. But now these sharks have mostly gone missing, and some experts blame a fishery for depleting the smaller sharks that the great whites feed on."
posted by brundlefly (12 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
They're all off the coast of Massachusetts.
posted by Melismata at 6:16 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]

Melismata, you beat me to it. I was just wondering if any of the missing sharks have gone to Cape Cod and environs, where an explosion of seals in the past few decades have made white sharks into regular visitors. This may sound like a stupid guess, and perhaps it is, but tagging programs reveal that sharks are capable of thousands of miles of global travel. And I would prefer to think that at least some of them had moved, rather than starved.

(Incidentally, the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy will allow you to sponsor a white shark and name it.)
posted by Countess Elena at 6:18 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]

OK, no

Oh... the owner of the shark watching thingie is angry and desperate enough to pay fisherman not to fish.
posted by clavdivs at 6:43 PM on August 9

LOL came to submit Massachusetts, there seems to be an omg shark story every few days.

Sharks are definitely coming for the tasty seals, the seals are coming for the warmer water and littler fish that also like warmer water. They'll all move on up towards the toasty warm waters of the arctic in a few years.
posted by sammyo at 7:06 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]

(Incidentally, the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy will allow you to sponsor a white shark and name it.)

Chompy. I shall name him... Chompy.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:10 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]

My father once pushed me as hard as any sports dad to get in the ocean and overcome my fear of sharks. I paid him back by actually doing that; now I love ocean swimming. But today, every time I go to the beach, my dad warns me about the local selachians -- white sharks in New England, bulls and tigers further south. He won't get in the ocean himself anymore.

It makes me sad, but it's true that more people are getting bit in the places we used to visit. Hotter temps lead to more swimming people and more shark species who are looking for food in different environments, and that is going to lead to some conflict. So it's important that sharks remain a "glamor species," like whales, and that shark-related tourism be able to flourish. (Except for night diving while chumming for sharks, I have seen a video of this, do not do this thing.)
posted by Countess Elena at 7:26 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]

I hope they didn't come to Western Australia, because if they did, that was their last port of call :-(
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:33 PM on August 9

Most of the sharks didn't go anywhere. They died because their food source was overfished. The white sharks also were probably hooked, or were eaten by a smaller number of larger sharks that, likely, departed for Port Lincoln or Cape Cod.
posted by JamesBay at 7:38 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]

One of them appears to be on vacation in the Med.
posted by arcticseal at 2:03 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]

Like all fish species, their population has declined precipitously in the last 2-3 decades. Apex predators in all areas are extinct or nearly so. Climate changes, overfishing, environmental destruction and poisoning, and so on - the anthropocene is already characterized by the most pervasive mass extinction of any other era.
posted by sudogeek at 4:49 AM on August 10

It doesn't have to be this way. While climate change is largely uncontrollable in the short term, overfishing is not uncontrollable.

Marine species, including sharks, are resilient and will return if there is enough food. One obvious solution is to ban longlining - period, but especially along this part of the coast.

Industrial-scale fishing is a major problem. Forget about banning drinking straws, commercial fishing is responsible for more than 50% of plastic pollution in the ocean.
posted by JamesBay at 8:42 AM on August 10

(Except for night diving while chumming for sharks, I have seen a video of this, do not do this thing.)

Um. What? Jesus Christ, I have NOT seen video of this thing and I definitely agree: do not do this thing.
posted by brundlefly at 11:28 AM on August 11

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