Great White Shark Research
The first real and substantive research on the Great White Sharks only started in 1998, after the government decided to keep the species closed to commercial fishing. All legitimate research in South Africa is done by the Department of Environmental Affairs: Branch - Oceans and Coasts, Republic of South Africa, one of the leaders in Great White Shark research worldwide and they currently have 4 research projects active on these animals. They are all under the guidance of the top predator team of the the Department of Environmental Affairs: Branch - Oceans and Coasts, Republic of South Africa, led by Dr. Mike Meyer. Shark Diving Unlimited wholly supports all legitimate research in South Africa done through the the Department of Environmental Affairs: Branch - Oceans and Coasts, Republic of South Africa.
This is the basis of all research done. The aim of this identification program is to document all the individual animals, their arrival times, size and gender. The best way to identify and document the sharks is by taking photos of the animal’s dorsal fins and storing it in a central database. Mike Rutzen and his team, along with Sara Andreotti, have been working on this project. To date they have identified roughly 200 animals in this manner, during the period from April 2009 and July 2009. In order for this program to work successfully it needs to be done on a continuous basis by motivated conservationists.
DNA Sampling Program
This program is jointly run with Australia to compare DNA of sharks between the two continents to establish whether they are the same sharks. Shark Diving Unlimited utilize all their skills and equipment to take the Department of Environmental Affairs: Branch - Oceans and Coasts, Republic of South Africa, out to sea once a month to conduct DNA sampling. We hope to increase the number of trips substantially in the future. DNA Sampling is a relatively new way to study these animals and is very cost effective. In collaboration with the DNA Sampling Program, a sub-program is being run working with isotopes. With the Isotope Program biologists and scientists can establish what the shark has been eating for the past 3 months.
Acoustic Tagging Program
The Acoustic Tagging Program consists of 2 parts, the transmitter on the shark and the receiver in the water. Shark Diving Unlimited assists the the Department of Environmental Affairs: Branch - Oceans and Coasts, Republic of South Africa, with logistics and replacement of the old receivers in Gansbaai, False Bay and Mosselbay. There are currently 5 receivers in Gansbaai strategically placed in “hotspots”, where Great White Sharks are most frequently sighted and actively seen. Mike Rutzen and his team do all retrieval of the old receivers and installation of the new receivers. The data gathered is used to establish movement patterns of the sharks, between summer and winter seasons around the Southern African coast.
Satalite tagging Program
The Satellite Tagging Program has been running from 2000, and is used to establish the large migration movements of the Great White Sharks. Thus far many migration patterns have been logged. One of the animals tagged in Gansbaai (a 3.5m female Great White Shark) travelled as far as Nigalu Reef in North-Western Australia, and was then re-sighted and identified by Shark Diving Unlimited nine months later. This was recorded as the fastest migration movement of any marine animal ever to date. This logged journey ultimately led to the Great White Sharks getting a cites appendix 2 listing. The listing is highly significant considering the Great White Shark is the first predatory fish to get a C.I.T.E.S appendix 2 listing.