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2003 Expedition Report

Between July 1 and August 10, 2003, the ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research returned to Seal Island in False Bay, South Africa for the fourth consecutive year. We continued our ongoing research with Chris Fallows and Rob Lawrence on White Shark predatory and social behavior.

The 2003 expedition was led by ReefQuest Field Research Coordinator, Neil Hammerschlag, who was also collecting data for his Masters thesis on environmental factors affecting White Shark predatory success.  Despite his busy schedule, ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research Director, R. Aidan Martin, was able to join the Team for the first expedition.

ReefQuest selected from over 400 applicants three research teams of five each to join us in South Africa for the expedition.



The three research teams were composed of the following people:

  • Neil Hammerschlag – Ontario, Canada

  • R.Aidan Martin – British Columbia, Canada

  • Brett Gonzalez – California, USA

  • Cheryl Black – South Carolina, USA

  • Kristi Foster – Florida, USA

  • Greg Foster – Florida, USA

  • Ann-Marie Powell – Plymouth, England

  • Britany Lindl – California, USA

  • Brendan Bray – Pennsylvania, USA

  • Heather Brown – Ontario, Canada

  • Andrew Currie – Norfolk, England

  • Amanda Copp – Texas, USA

  • Matthew Hawksworth – Perth, Western Australia

  • T. Justin Bronder – Colorado, USA

  • Shannon Mckenny – Texas, USA

  • Kathryn Hodgson – Cornwall, England

False Bay To help us evaluate White Shark predatory activity, four companies generously sponsored ReefQuest’s shark research expedition with crucial equipment: Oregon Scientific donated 2 weather recorders, Endeco/YSI sponsored the team with 2 water quality measuring units, The Ben Meadows Company donated a remote weather station, and LI-COR Biosciences sponsored 2 PAR sensors. In addition, the South African Navy and Institute for Maritime Technology lent support to the research by donating important environmental data.

While in False Bay, Neil  also gave a lecture on Shark Biology at South Africa’s Institute of Maritime Technology, to an audience made up of members of the South African Navy, Institute of Maritime Technology, and Navy Diving School.

During the 2003 expedition, our research team witnessed over 200 natural predations, and identified over 140 different Great White Sharks.  Combined with data collected by ReefQuest Marine Projects over the past 4 years, this brings the total number of documented predator-prey interactions between White Sharks and Cape Fur Seals to 401 and the number of individual White Sharks catalogued to 262, including numerous re-sightings over separate days and years.  The data we have collected is beginning to show that White Sharks at Seal Island exhibit low residence times, strong site fidelity, and that numerous identifiable sharks that appear to come and go together in stable groups. 

This data is in the process of being analyzed for publication in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

For more information on this on-going research project, please visit ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research


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