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  • John J King II

Report from Down Under: White Sharks were Missing

Large female white shark photographed in May 2015 during the late fall of the Southern hemisphere.

It was to be a historic gathering of White shark conservationists and eco-tour operators from the world's shark hotspots to dive with Rodney Fox Shark Divers in the Neptune Islands. Friends gathered in Port Lincoln from South Africa, Canada, Reunion Island, New Zealand and the USA to make the 40 mile journey to the area where white sharks traditionally aggregate at this time year in clear warm water. Our host, Andrew Fox, was proud to welcome us aboard his new vessel, Rodney Fox named after his legendary father. The excitement was palpable.....

Young male white shark hunting sting rays at 25 meters from a cage. (May 2015)

We made a stop at a spot famous for being able to swim with beautiful but endangered Australian sea lions.These pinnipeds are getting muscled out of the region by an increasing population of Long nosed fur seals. At the time we did not know that these sea lion dives were to be the highlight of our trip. Incredibly over the next 9 days not one white shark was sighted!

Dominant male sea lion comes to investigate us as we played with the (his) females.

Common dolphins came to the bow as we changed positions between islands.

As we parted ways at the end of our trip there was lots of speculation as to where the white sharks had gone. Theories ranged from reports of a dead whale calf in the region to possibly shark interest in the salmon run that was at the time aggregating on rivers on the Eyre Peninsula near by. to a lower than usual number of seal and sea lion births on the Neptune rookeries.

In any case for the first time in 30 years of recording sightings by the Fox team white sharks were missing from the Neptunes from Nov 25 until December 18th and as of this writing there have only been a handful of sightings since then --- now the middle of January. Seems ironic that similar reports were coming out of South Africa in recent times and likely the most predictable location for researchers and visitors to observe white sharks in the world may be Cape Cod during August & September. Home sweet home!

We will see what happens in future.

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