- Humans and great white sharks have experienced multiple close encounters this summer.
- Our presence in the water, shark migration patterns, and "chumming" (attracting sharks with bait) help to explain the incidents.
- Marine wildlife experts are concerned about tourist operations that use bait to bring in sharks.
Reports of great white shark encounters with humans have been abundant this summer, with a few harrowing incidents of sharks circling tourist and fishing boats yielding dramatic images. These events suggest the toothy predators are becoming more brazen but experts believe several, more innocent, factors are at work.
One of the most unusual incidents happened last month. Field specialist Dorien Schroder of Oceans Research, a marine organization based in South Africa, was working in Mossel Bay with six crewmembers. They were documenting the dorsal fins of sharks, as part of an identification program, when a 10-foot-long great white shark suddenly landed on their vessel.
"Next thing I know I hear a splash, and see a white shark breach out of the water from the side of the boat hovering, literally, over the crewmember who was chumming (with fish oils) on the boat's portside," Schroder recalled.