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.
Simon’s 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 False Bay to be home to an incredible diversity of shark species. False Bay is home to 27 different species of shark, ray and chimaera (all cartilaginous fish) which represent 15 families. Most of these are potential prey for great whites, especially the hound shark, bronze whalers, and guitar sharks.
Other sharks that can be spotted in the shallows and in the stunning protected reefs in the Kelp forests or closer to the sea bed in sandy areas near rocks, reefs and gullies along the Cape Peninsula marine reserve, include the Broadnose Sevengill Cow Shark and the Spotted Gully Shark. These are astounding sharks to dive with, with their primitive looking and calm slow movements. The Puffadder Shy Shark and the Pyjama Shark, both from the Catshark family, can be found hiding in caves or beneath crevices. Another shark worth a mention is the Mako Shark. With its big eyes and round nose, is the cheetah of the ocean and can swim at great speeds. With its friendly nature, it is possible to free dive with these gorgeous torpedoes.
READ MORE about the sharks in False Bay