Gansbaai group dives deep into myths of shark tours

A conservation tour group in Gansbaai wants to set the record straight on myths about shark cage diving.

Marine Dynamics offers boat-based whale watching and shark cage diving.

The group also support the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

Marine Dynamics' Brenda du Toit says that while there is a lot of controversy around the shark tours industry, not enough South Africans are well-informed.

It's not something that everyone is visiting or experiencing. There are a lot of misconceptions about what the industry is about.

Brenda du Toit, Marine Dynamics spokesperson

Du Toit explains that the industry is regulated by the Environmental Affairs department as more operators attempt to join the market.

She says that there is a myth that chumming (the use of fish products to feed sharks) lures sharks to the area.

However, she explains that the sharks are naturally found in the Gansbaai region and are migratory.

What we are showing a tourist in Gansbaai is a Great White in it's natural habitat.

Brenda du Toit, Marine Dynamics spokesperson

Du Toit explains that the sharks are naturally in the shallow end of the ocean during summer, and are therefore more likely to interact with humans.

While in winter, the sharks are attracted to the chum or bait from the island systems where seals are found.

We have to move our boats where they go.

Brenda du Toit, Marine Dynamics spokesperson

The tour company invests a great deal in research on the Great White shark and has a dedicated PHD student who is investigating whether there any potential effects to the behaviour of the sharks.

Du Toit says at least 80 000 tourists visit Marine Dynamics every year, and they believe that their presence has helped deter shark poachers.

Listen to the full conversation from The John Maytham Show (with Richard Calland):

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