Great White Solstice

Shark & Kayak

While northern-hemisphere inhabitants are enjoying their first day of winter, our cousins in the southern hemisphere are just beginning summer. And in South Africa’s Shark Bay, near Gansbaai, the great whites are departing for other waters.

The great whites make their way to Shark Bay annually between September and January, though they are not hunting, and, as Rob Mousley reports, they “ignore bait slicks (and bathers), swimming through them without any reaction–in contrast to their behaviour at other locations such as Dyer Island” [link added].

Thomas P. Peschak and Michael C. Scholl began using kayaks to join the sharks in shallow waters (sometimes as shallow as 2 meters) where their research vessel couldn’t go. Testing showed the sharks cared little — “the sharks would circle the kayak and look at it, but they never tested it with their teeth.”

Michael is quite happy now to paddle with the sharks especially as the sea kayaks seem a minimally invasive platform from which to do so. Individual sharks sometimes circle the kayak, and will occasionally lift their heads out of the water to take a better look, but subsequently ignore the kayak altogether allowing the researcher to follow closely behind.

When asked what a paddler should do if a shark is sighted, Michael said, “First and foremost, enjoy the moment!”

Andre Hartmann, commercial fisherman and de facto shark tour guide enjoys grabbing their fins. From Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Adventures:

Jean-Michel and Andre snorkel near the surface, a very vulnerable position because great whites tend to feed from the sea floor up. An enormous great white advances, and the divers are careful not to provoke it. There is a waiting game. Eventually, the shark allows the divers to touch it. Then, amazingly, unlike its terrifying man-eating reputation, the great white allows the divers, one at a time, to grip its dorsal fin and be taken for a ride through the clear blue waters.

Hat tip to Joe and Flickr for bringing all this to me.

great white shark, sharks, photo, shark bay, kayak

9 thoughts on “Great White Solstice

  1. I never cease to be amazed at how well the giants of nature can peacefully coexist with man under the right circumstances. I doubt I would ever have the courage to go amidst the great whites in this manner…a kayak. But I can only imagine the intense thrill and enjoyment that must surely be felt in this situation.

    My thanks to people like Thomas P. Peschak and Michael C. Scholl and their courage and determination, for without individuals like them, we might never learn about some of our greatest neighbors.

  2. That is amazing i envy you for having such a wonderful expeirience with the earth’s greatest animal, and applaud your bravery although I too would also be delighted in that position.

  3. I wish that one day when im done elementry, highschool, and colage i might at one time be able to enjoy this wonderful and intrgaing yet theres so much more that we dont understand

  4. WOW. This Shark bay place sounds fun. I have been to Shark bay but only one up North in Western Austraila for a short holiday as I live down south from there. But this place sounds amasing!!!! SO THE SHARKS DON’T ATTACK YOU, I always thought they were misunderstud but not so tame that they would let you ride them!!!!! I AM GONNA GO THERE ONE DAY….Sure a great white is one thing but imagine if megalodons still exsisted!!!!

  5. WOW. I never cease to be amazed at how well the giants of nature can peacefully coexist with man under the right circumstances. I doubt I would ever have the courage to go amidst the great whites in this manner…a kayak. But I can only imagine the intense thrill and enjoyment that must surely be felt in this situation.

  6. I would like to obtain permission from the photographer Thomas P. Peschak to use this photo of a shark following a kyak in a talk I am going to be giving to a kyak club. I am not being paid for the talk and would not use the photo from other purposes. Anyone know how I can reach the photographer?

    Thanks.

  7. Great experience, i want to do that some day when i got the time and funds… óóóóóóhh and look at the weather! its shit here in holland :(

Comments are closed.