The False Bay coastal road. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

CAPE TOWN - Shark Spotters say there have been no great white shark sightings in False Bay for 2019. While there could be a number of potential reasons for their disappearance, one of the reasons could be due to the possibility of another bigger predator that has been hunting closer to the Western Cape coastline. 

Shark Spotters CEO Sarah Waries, says that while it is never easy to understand exactly what’s happening on an ecosystem scale, one of the explanations of the great white disappearance could be due to the presence of a specific type of orca.

"There has been evidence of orcas feeding on great white sharks, sevengill shark and bronze whaler sharks around False Bay. The orcas are not consuming the whole shark, they are disabling the sharks by tearing open their pectoral girdle or their chests and the orcas suck out the liver of the shark.

Waries explains that “the liver is incredibly rich in nutrients and in white sharks the livers take up to a third of its body weight. They are very big because they are used for buoyancy control. So if you’ve got a one ton shark you’ve got a third of a ton of liver and they are sucking out the liver and consuming it that way.”

“The lack of white sharks can have really significant ecosystem impacts, we are not entirely sure the extent of those at this moment, and that’s why we are doing more research within False Bay and along the South African coastline to try and understand but it could have significant effects.”

The shocking reason why great whites have left False Bay. Video: Kelly-Jane Turner/SAPA+ TV