Doccie deep dives into world of cannibal sharks

Co-owner of Shark Research Unit in Mossel Bay, Sophumelela Qoma, second from left. With her, from left, are Inam Qoba, Liwa Qoba, 9, and Anele Qoba, from Table View.

The National Geographic Wild channel kicked off its Sharkfest documentary series with Shark Eat Shark, which was shot off the coast of Mossel Bay.

A sneak peek was screened at Cabo Beach Club at the Waterfront on Wednesday June 28.

Shark Eat Shark premiered on Sunday July 3 on National Geographic Wild as part of 72 hours of shark programming over the next four weeks.

It’s about an investigation by scientists Enrico Gennari and Lacey Williams, who lead a team of experts into the deep just off Seal Island in Mossel Bay to capture evidence of cannibal sharks.

In the documentary, the scientists, with the help of Florida researcher and marine ecologist Neil Hammerschlag, use underwater cameras, observations, tissue samples, among other methods, to prove the theory.

The co-owner of the Shark Research Unit in Mossel Bay, Sophumelela Qoma, said it was assumed that the sharks were in Mossel Bay because of Seal Island, but it was observed that sharks hung around the island in winter but moved around Mossel Bay seas to other areas, where smaller sharks were.

She said that while they had not managed to get footage of a shark eating a shark during filming, they had seen a great white eat a spotted gully shark. “The (team on the) boat was in awe and it was a vital moment.”

Sharkfest aims to educate the public about sharks and improve understanding of the endangered species.

Ms Qoma said it was important to get people swimming as a way to encourage ocean conservation.

“We have different levels of curiosity and people who either don’t have access to the ocean or cannot swim – get them to the shores. That is the introduction to the ocean.”

Meanwhile, the question of the day was “Can sharks feel emotion?”

Everyone had their own thoughts on this, but Ms Qoma said that while it had not been scientifically proven, shark anatomy and behaviour suggested they could show emotion, and it was possible that with rapid advances in technology, scientists would be able to confirm it sooner rather than later.

Innocent Zungu, also known as Super Sandman, created a sand sculpture for the Sharkfest launch at Cabo Beach Club.
From left are National Geographic Wild field presenter Athule Mazana, 14, from Gugulethu; Siobhan Hodgson, from Constantia; Nwabisa Ndzunga, also from Gugulethu; and Katia Rixton, from Constantia, at the Sharkfest launch.
Kate Malloy from the Shark Research Unit in Mossel Bay.