The Sharks of Aliwal Shoal
When planning the perfect diving getaway, sharks might be on your ultimate list…along with all kinds of other underwater critters and creatures.
There are a number of great reasons why you might want to go diving on the Aliwal Shoal. Not only is it a fantastic place to explore wrecks and reefs, but it is also a wonderful spot to see sharks. In fact, the shoal is a wonderful place to see all kinds of interesting sharks, regardless of whether you are diving or snorkelling.
There are 5 main species of sharks that you are likely to find when diving in this part of the world and they are the Blacktip, the Tiger, the Ragged Tooth, the Dusky and the Whale.
The Oceanic Blacktip
Fast, and occasionally aggressive, the Blacktip is one of the few sharks in the world to hunt near river mouths and estuaries, well away from the ocean. These sharks tend to prefer to make their homes in the warmer oceans and as such, they are often seen by divers and swimmers alike. Outside of mating season, these sharks live in segregated groups of males and females.
They eat mostly gamefish, smaller sharks, stingrays, cuttlefish, and crayfish. When diving and snorkelling in Aliwal Shoal or Protea Banks you have a really good chance of getting quite up close and personal with them. One of their odd behavioural traits is that they are sometimes known to leap from the water and land on their backs. This is one of their feeding techniques used when hunting schools of bony fish swimming close to the water surface.
The Tiger Shark
With a fearsome look and a somewhat bad reputation, the Tiger shark is another one of the creatures you’ll see just off the coast of South Africa. The shark gets its name from the dark stripes that are on display during their juvenile years but which all but fade as they grow older. Tigers are well-known for their exceptional sense of smell and sight, and they are really not fussy eaters. Their set of powerful, serrated teeth are capable of cracking sea turtle shells although they are mostly scavengers and have been known to even tuck into car tyres and license plates.
Tiger sharks are best seen during the summer months when the water temperatures are warmer. They are not exactly the most curious of species, instead, they need to be coaxed to make an appearance to divers.
Next on the list is quite a toothy shark, and not at all attractive. But despite appearances, these sharks are pretty docile and are very unlikely to attack unless they feel threatened. Their look has also earned them a place in aquariums all over the world. The Ragged Tooth shark is also known as the Sand Tiger shark and the Grey Nurse shark, and it sticks to small areas around the world, preferring warm water. The best time of the year to see Ragged Tooth sharks at Aliwal Shoal is during the winter months, from June to October. As these sharks tend to stick to the reefs, only scuba divers will see them.
Known for making its home in the tropical and mild waters all over the world, the Dusky shark is a long distance swimmer and migrates according to the ocean temperatures. During the summers they migrate towards the poles while in the winter they head to the equator. In a year they can swim a staggering 2000 nautical miles! Once the females have reproduced, they will give birth in the same area in which they were born. Divers can spot these sharks during the South African winter months.
Certainly, not your ferocious shark and definitely not a shark with a scary face, the Whale shark is one of the most incredible sharks you’ll see while diving. This is the biggest shark in the world and generally, live a solitary life. You might catch sight of larger numbers of whale sharks in areas which are rich with plankton. This is a filter feeder, and they have the biggest mouths designed for the purpose of filtering. These sharks are super easy to spot, as you probably guessed, and they can’t be missed!
There is no guarantee that you will see whale sharks at Aliwal Shoal. They are actually quite rare but during the summer months, you might just cross paths with a juvenile.
Go diving at Aliwal Shoal with Dive the Big 5 and see all kinds of interesting, unique underwater wildlife.