A 4.3m female great white shark was found dead at Fish Hoek beach on Sunday morning, says the SA Whale Disentanglement Network’s Mike Meyer.
Shark Spotters research manager Alison Kock said the shark had been caught in “experimental” fishing gear owned by Whelk Fisheries.
“The gear was placed on the sea floor and had a jar of sardines attached to it as bait. The shark was found with a rope around its gills. At the moment, we are unsure how it got entangled or why she couldn’t swim away,” Kock said.
Meyer said the carcass was discovered just before noon and was found tangled in a “new kind of experimental net”.
“She was found trapped in the ropes and had probably been dead for some time. We suspect that she drowned after being held in one place for a long time and eventually she couldn’t breathe.” Meyer said they would “try to get out” what they could from the carcass to determine the exact cause of death.
“We are very concerned about the matter and have reported the incident to the Department of Agriculture,” he added.
Whelk Fisheries’ Judian Bruk said the ropes were 2m long and were “more like two hoop nets on top of each other, used to catch sea snails”.
“They are made of a flimsy material and are not attached to a chain or an anchor. What happened to the shark was a freak accident as the gear is usually left overnight or for a few hours. We will be looking at ways of how we can modify the gear to make it weaker,” he said.
Lesley Rochat, founder and executive director of AfriOceans Conservation Alliance, said: “Something like this shouldn’t be happening in our waters. It’s an absolute shame as great white sharks are a protected species. It’s upsetting that an innocent shark had to die.”
Rochat added that AfriOceans had launched a campaign called “Wanted dead or Alive” as there is an increasing, worrying trend of great white sharks being targeted by anglers.
The city’s Head of Special Projects and Disaster Operations Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said the dead great white was towed to the Simon’s Town Naval base.
The carcass was then taken to the Department of Environmental Affairs resource centre in Paarden Eiland, where a necropsy would be performed by scientists today to establish the cause of death. - Cape Argus