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Sharks play a major role in shaping the marine ecosystems.


South Africa is home to an incredible diversity of marine life, largely attributable to the extreme contrast between the oceans on its west and east coasts. The warm Agulhas current runs down the east coast and supports a variety of subtropical species. In comparison, the cold Benguela current sweeps up the west coast and is characterised by cool, nutrient-rich waters which are highly productive. As the currents and temperature of the oceans change along the coastline, so do the different plants and animals that live there. 

Cape Town is situated close to the meeting point of these two currents, and as such supports a wide diversity of species from both warmer and cooler environments, including sharks. Many people when they hear the word "shark" in False Bay immediately think of great white sharks. But thanks to the meeting and mixing of the Indian and Atlantic oceans right on the Cape's doorstep, it allows Cape Town to be home to an incredible diversity of shark species. False Bay is home to 27 different species of shark, ray and chimaera (all cartilagenous fish) which represent 15 families. Most of these are potential prey for great whites, especially the hound shark, bronze whalers and guitar sharks.

Shark Spotter shark sightings (via sms, website, Twitter and Facebook) are of great whites. Only in rare circumstances will we close a beach for any other shark species. Take note that to date, there have been no confirmed bull or tiger shark sightings in False Bay.

Elasmobranchs Recorded in False Bay 

Alopiidae Alopias vulpinus Common thresher shark
Callorhinchidae Callorhinchus capensis St Joseph
Carcharhinidae Carcharhinus   brachyurus Bronze whaler
  Carcharhinus obscurus Dusky shark
  Carcharhinus   plumbeus Sandbar shark
Dasyatidae Dasyatis brevicaudata Short-tail stingray
  Dasyatis chrysonota Blue stingray
  Gymnura natalensis Diamond ray
Hexanchidae Notorynchus   cepedianus Sevengill cowshark
Lamnidae Carcharodon carcharias Great white shark
  Isurus oxyrinchus Shortfin mako
Myliobatidae Myliobatis aquila Eagle ray
  Pteromylaeus bovinus Duckbill ray
Narkidae Narke capensis Onefin electric ray
Odontaspididae Carcharias taurus Spotted ragged tooth
Rajidae Raja alba Spearnose skate
  Raja miraletus Twineye skate
  Raja straeleni Biscuit skate
Rhinobatidae Rhinobatos annulatus Lesser guitarfish
Scyliorhinidae Halaelurus natalensis Tiger catshark
  Haploblepharus   edwardsii Puffadder shyshark
  Poroderma africanum Pyjama shark
Sphyrnidae Sphyrna zygaena Smooth hammerhead
Torpedinidae Torpedo fuscmaculata Electric ray
Triakidae Galeorhinus galeus Soupfin   shark/vaalhaai
  Mustelus mustelus Houndshark
  Triakis megalopterus Spotted gully shark

Reference: SJ Lamberth (2006): White shark and other chondrichthyan interactions with the beach-seine (treknet) fishery in False Bay, South Africa, African Journal of Marine Science, 28:3-4, 723-727