by Richard Coke
Safari high season has just opened in South Africa’s False Bay and I can’t wait to go. It’s not what most people think of when they hear the word “safari,” but it’s a truly astounding experience.
Although the Great White’s can be seen all year in these waters this is the peak time when you can view their unique predatory behavior. In fact, some of the most incredible contests between predator and prey that I’ve witnessed on safari have taken place in these waters.
Sharks gather in the bay to feed on the seal colonies that live there. They hunt the seals by following their silhouettes from below. When a shark strikes, it comes up from the sea bottom like a rocket, often bursting out of the water.
It’s an unforgettable sight. I’ve seen a five metre long Great White breaching as it tries to snatch a seal. The sharks are ferocious predators, but the seals are worthy opponents, using their guile and agility to evade the sharks.
Predator and prey have to be evenly-matched. If the seals won too often, the sharks would starve; if the sharks always won, the seal numbers would drop. The battle is finely-balanced and it is always an incredible privilege to watch it.