A team of researchers from Stellenbosch University has painted a grim picture of South Africa’s great white shark population.
The team believe that there are just 350 to 530 predators left on the country’s coastline.
They base their findings on six years of doing fieldwork in the Gansbaai area.
It is the largest great white research study undertaken in South Africa.
“The numbers in South Africa are extremely low‚” confirmed Sara Andreotti of the Stellenbosch University Department of Botany and Zoology.
“If the situation stays the same‚ South Africa’s great white sharks are heading for possible extinction‚” Andreotti said in a statement released at the media briefing. The team’s findings relied largely on analysis of nearly 5000 photographs of shark dorsal fins taken between 2009 and 2011. Unique markings on sharks’ fins serve as “shark fingerprints”‚ allowing researchers to identify individual animals.
“Using mark-recapture techniques‚ the results from this part of the study indicate with 95% confidence a population estimate of between 353 and 522 individuals. According to Andreotti‚ this is 52% fewer than what was estimated in previous mark-recapture studies.”