Great white shark conservation
Did you know?
There’s a mythical great white shark in False Bay so big it is called 'The Submarine'.
Of the 100-odd shark species swimming in South African waters, there is 1 that captures the imagination like no other – the great white shark. Their size alone has entered the realm of myth. Because they were feared, they were often killed, but that tide started to turn in 1991.
That was when South Africa became the 1st country in the world to introduce great white shark conservation. Great white sharks were proclaimed a protected species. Other countries followed, including Namibia, Australia, the United States and Malta.
It was also in the early 1990s that the shark tourism industry started. Soon former shark fishermen saw to their astonishment that people were willing to travel vast distances for a reasonable chance of seeing this marine predator. The great white shark is officially worth much more alive than dead.
As a plus, South Africa is the only country in the world where it is relatively easy to see great white sharks. A boat ride taking less than 20 minutes will take you to ‘Shark Alley’ near Gansbaai, where operators are so confident they can show you these animals that they will usually offer a free trip in the unlikely event that you don’t see a great white.
Not many people mention it these days, but the book and movie Jaws in 1975 had a profound effect on great white shark conservation. At first, it led to the persecution of these magnificent creatures across the world. They were seen as monstrous man-eaters. But as marketers will tell you, any publicity is good publicity. The fear led to an abiding fascination and a profitable shark tourism industry that has safeguarded the species in South Africa.
As one shark dive operator noted: 'Jaws scared people out of the water and into the boats. People want to see them, but still be safe.'
Great white sharks remain vulnerable outside South African waters where shark hunters and fishermen still target them.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
KwaZulu Natal Sharks Board
Tel: +27 (0) 31 566 0400
Tel: +27 (0) 28 384 1005
Cell +27 (0) 82 380 3405
Great White Shark Tours
Tell: +27 (0) 384 1418
Cell: +27 83 300 2138