The waters just off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, were once filled with great white sharks, but nobody has seen one of the creatures in the area all year.
The Shark Spotting Programme, an organization formed to warn swimmers about sharks, recorded an average of 205 shark sightings every year in the region between 2010 and 2016. However, that number sharply declined to 50 in 2018, and after that, there has not been a single great white sighting.
Scientists are concerned about the situation, but they also seem baffled about the causes and implications of the sudden disappearance
On Wednesday, the city government of Cape Town issued a statement that revealed other evidence that great whites have disappeared from the local waters.
“Further supporting evidence of the absence of these large apex predators is the lack of any feeding or bite marks on whale carcasses the city has removed from False Bay this year. We do not know how their absence from False Bay would affect the ecosystem. Neither do we know the causes for their disappearance.” the statement read.
Experts have speculated about the cause of the disappearance. Some have suggested that perhaps over-fishing of the shark’s prey has caused them to leave the area, while others believe that they could have been eaten by pods of orcas, who recently arrived in the bay, and have been known to eat sharks, although this happens on very rare occasions.
It is estimated that some 100 million sharks are killed every year for meat, teeth, jaws, fins and other body parts. Great white sharks are considered vulnerable on the endangered species list, but experts don’t believe that this recent disappearance from one area is a sign of a species-wide problem. In fact, great white sharks have recently been spotted off the coast of Nova Scotia, which is a strange, but not unprecedented place for the species to be swimming.
Caught on camera: Two commercial fishermen had a close encounter with a massive great white shark in Cape Cod Bay. pic.twitter.com/pC7QfcPA4q
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 29, 2019
Meanwhile, with the great white sharks gone from the waters near Cape Town, other species of shark that have never been seen in the area are beginning to populate the bay. For example, tourist boats in search of great whites have spotted numerous gill sharks, which were not previously present in the area.
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Last week, Truth Theory reported that, Canada became the first G20 country to ban the import and export of shark fins. The law also includes directives to rebuild depleted fish populations.
IMAGE CREDIT: Elias Levy / Flickr