The Presence of Great White Sharks: Associations with Environmental Factors
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The white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) can be regarded as one of the greatest ambush predators on Earth. White sharks have learned the best techniques, places, and times to hunt to maximize their success rate. They are aware of environmental conditions that affect their chances of success. This paper looks at the frequency of white shark sightings compared to wind speeds in Mossel Bay, South Africa and wind’s effect on white shark hunting behavior. The hypothesis is that more sharks will be hunting during high wind speeds because this decreases water visibility and increases swell height, two known environmental factors that aid in ambush predation. Ambush predators like the white shark benefit from poor water visibility and large swells which put their prey at a visual disadvantage. Sharks in Mossel Bay must rely on water visibility more than water depth to conceal their presence because it is relatively shallow thus making wind speed especially important here. This paper aims to serve as a preliminary analysis of wind speed and suggests that more in-depth studies on wind speed be conducted. Future studies that more accurately and consistently record wind speed and other data will be useful in further proving this hypothesis. Beach-goers, policy makers, and the South African government can all stand to benefit from studies like this one that examine shark behavior and aim to determine shark critical habitat.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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