South African waters are home to more than 30 species of sharks. These range from the Hammerhead Sharks that in the tropical waters of east coast to the tiny Puffadder Shysharks that roam the kelp forests along the southwest coast.
South Africa’s sharks are a major attraction for television crews such as BBC and National Geographic. Local and international tourists flock from far to see these sharks for their own eyes. Great white shark tour operators in False Bay and Gansbaai generate enormous revenue every year. Aliwal Shoal is one of the most popular diving destinations for shark enthusiasts, as they come to see the spectacular aggregations of Raggedtooth Sharks and the large numbers of Blacktip and Tiger Sharks. The offshore expansion of Aliwal Shoal, together with Protea Banks MPA, will protect important habitat for seven species of shark.
iSimangaliso MPA will protect Raggedtooth Sharks that use Quarter Mile Reef and the sanctuary at Leadsmans when they are pregnant. It is also the only area in South Africa where Silvertips, Grey Reef, White-tip Reef Sharks and Whale Sharks occur. The offshore expansion of the iSimangaliso MPA will further protect core tiger shark habitat.
A newly discovered gathering of giant guitarsharks in uThukela Banks is the first of its kind in the world. This proposed MPA is also a nursery area for hammerhead sharks. The existing Pondoland MPA is important for species such as Dusky Sharks and Bronze Whalers that migrate though this area during sardine run.
There are also a number of pelagic sharks that live in the open ocean ecosystems, including blue and mako sharks. Blue sharks will receive protection in the Orange Shelf Edge MPA and mako sharks in the Southwest Indian Seamounts MPA. Amathole Offshore MPA will provide protection to several shark species, including the small guitarshark.
This video shows the wide range of sharks you can see in South African waters - Sharks of South Africa.