Conservationists in the Western Cape are baffled after three great white shark carcasses washed up on Cape beaches last week.
According to Marine Dynamics, a Cape Town-based shark cage diving and conservation company, it’s the first time that a shark has washed ashore since February. For three to wash up in the space of a few days is, quite understandably, shocking for researchers.
“We have never seen anything like this,” says Alison Towner, a biologist for the Dyer Island Conservation Trust that was called to the scene of all three beachings.
The first, a 4,9m female, washed up in Gansbaai last Wednesday, before a 3,4m male was found in Franskraal on Thursday.
On Sunday, much to the shock of all parties involved, a 4,2m male washed up in Struisbaai.
Towner notes that injuries are consistent across all three specimens, and that the animals’ “squalene-rich livers” have been removed with “almost surgical precision”. The leading suspects are orcas, and comments on Marine Dynamic’s Facebook posts suggest that there are a significant number of killer whales in the region.
Their presence seems to have white sharks spooked, as the company notes that its commercial vessel could not confirm a single sighting on Sunday.
The carcasses have been recovered for autopsy and research.