07 October 2005

Great White Shark travels 11 000 km across the Indian Ocean from South Africa to Australia

A female Great White shark has been recorded doing the long haul South Africa-to-Australia round trip in 99 days, the department of environmental affairs and tourism (DEAT) said on Thursday.

With the ocean depths as her drinks and snacks trolley, she travelled 11 000 km across the Indian Ocean from South Africa to Australia with a device temporarily attached to her, communicating information to a satellite.

The research, conducted by marine scientists from the department and international scientists, highlights the first link of two of the most important and widely separated populations of great white sharks, the department said.

"It also highlights the first known round trip swim of an individual shark across an ocean and the fastest return trip across an ocean of any marine organism."

She spent significant amounts of time deep in the ocean, which the scientists believe suggests that great white sharks are more vulnerable to commercial fishing operations in the open ocean than previously thought.

The study also describes the behaviour and migration patterns of a variety of other great white sharks, including long-distance return trips along the south-eastern South African coast, smaller-scale patrolling behaviour and a tendency to return to home waters.

The DEAT marine scientists involved in the study were Mike Meyers, Herman Oosthuisen, Deon Kotze, Mike Paterson, previously of the department, and Stephan Swanson, also previously of the department.

Source: www.iol.co.za


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