Cape Town, South Africa is home to an incredible diversity of marine life as the city is situated close to the meeting points of the cold Benguela and warm Aghulus currents. Thanks to the mixing and meeting of the Atlantic and Indian oceans right on the Cape’s doorstep, False Bay, in particular, is home to approximately 27 different species of shark. We’ve put together a list of the five most commonly sighted sharks in the False Bay area.
The Great White Shark
Image sourced from Getty Images
The Great White needs no introduction in the Cape Town region. The Great White shark is the most well-known its species, not only in South Africa but in California, Australia and Guadeloupe too. False Bay is home to the Great White Shark, and they can frequently be spotted from Fish Hoek, Muizenberg and Monwasbi beaches.
These Great Whites received their name due to the light colour of their underbellies, while their darker dorsal area serves well in hiding the advanced predator from unsuspecting seals and other prey.
The Great White averages at about 20 feet long and can live up to 60 years old.
The Broadnose Sevengill Cow Shark
Image by Morne Hardenberg, Shark Explorers
The Broadnose Sevengill is found in the shallows of Cape Town and in the majestic protected reefs in the Kelp forests along the Cape Peninsula marine reserve.
Although the Sevengill’s primitive look and calm, slow movements can be linked back to the Jurassic age from over 150 million years ago. As nocturnal hunters, the Broadnose sharks predate on seals, smaller shark species and sting-rays.
The Broadnose Sevengill Cow Shark can be between 4.6 to 18 feet in length and can live up to 30 years.
The Mako Shark
Image by Andy Murch
With its round nose and big eyes, the Mako Shark is often referred to as the cheetah of the ocean. However, the Mako has a considerable speed advantage over a cheetah and achieve speeds of over 74km per hour! Built for speed, the Mark even sports streamlined “skin teeth” and “spoilers” on either side of its tail. The Mako Shark is often confused for a smaller version of the Great White Shark.
What’s more, is that the Mako can range between 10-14 feet long and has a lifespan of 28-30 years.
The Spotted Gully Shark
Image sourced from Two Oceans Aquarium
The Spotted Gully Shark is found in the shallow inshore waters from South Africa to Southern Angola, preferring to be closer to the sea bed in sandy areas near reefs, rocks and gullies.
Moreover, the Gully Shark females outgrow the males and boast large rounded fins. Gully sharks are also characterised by their blunt shot snout, grey/bronze colour and lots of signature black spots.
The Spotted Gully Shark can grow to 5.6 feet in length and has a lifespan of 25 years.
The Sandbar Shark
Image sourced from Georgia Aquarium
The Sandbar Shark is found in temperate and tropical waters across the world, as well as False Bay. The Sandbar Shark gets its name from being blue-greyish brown with a paler underside.
Due to their thick and tough skin, the Sandbar Shark is, unfortunately, a commonly hunted animal for leather. Their meat is also used for human consumption and their fins for shark fin soup. For these reasons, the Sandbar Shark is considered endangered.
Additionally, the Sandbar Shark can grow up 8 feet long and has an average lifespan of about 25 years.