In ‘Mystery at Shark Beach’ shark expert Matt Dicken and forensic shark scientist Dr. Geremy Cliff are brought in to try and solve this mysterious problem and seek a solution that benefits both shark and human. Dr Cliff is an experienced investigator of shark attacks on the South African coast where the shark population is high, attracted by millions of sardines which migrate along the coast. There are no shark nets to protect Second beach because the wild waters make this impossible to implement. By checking bite marks left on the surfboards, Dr Cliff quickly establishes that some the attacks are likely to have been caused by Bull sharks and Tiger sharks. But in two of the cases the bodies were completely devoured, making the culprit impossible to identify.
Matt travels to Port St Johns and decides to undertake a series of scuba dives off the reefs adjacent to the bay to get a good idea of the topography of the ocean floor. How does the sea floor affect the hunting tactics of various sharks and is the topography somehow making attacks more likely? He also deploys a shark tagging system in the bay to track which species feed within the immediate vicinity.
The results are startling — the waters around Second beach are literally boiling with a huge variety of sharks, including Threshers and Great whites, not normally seen in this area. Back on land he investigates some of the more bizarre theories spread by locals. He attends drumming sessions with the local Xhosa tribe, speaks with witch doctors and tests the outﬂow of the nearby Msimvubu river for effluent. Are the low frequency drumming sounds and beach sacrifices of animals attracting the sharks to the area? Is the river a possible Bull shark breeding ground, making them especially territorial and aggressive?
Matt’s conclusions reveal a disturbing trend which could have implications for other developing coastal communities frequented by sharks, not just in South Africa but all over the world.
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