Secrets of the Hammerhead revealed

Secrets of the Hammerhead revealed

Gansbaai Courant

The passionate conservationist and accomplished speaker, Gibbs Kuguru, was the speaker on the topic “smooth hammerhead sharks” at the Marine Dynamics Marine evening on 27th September 2016 in the Great White House, Kleinbaai.

Gibbs opened with an interesting insert from local community show 50 │50 on his tagging work with the smooth hammerhead sharks. When taking a young hammerhead out the water, he keeps to a strict time limit of five minutes to hook and release. The shark is put on a platform and scientific data taken – an R code tag, similar to the tags the Dyer Island Conservation Trust team deploy on great whites in Gansbaai, will give data for twenty years. A genetic sample is taken from the trailing edge of the dorsal fin. This knowledge gathered will ultimately help to conserve the population. As Gibbs says, “The DNA molecule structure holds so much complexity and it helps scientists in estimating and maintaining diversity. So many challenges face species like the hammerhead such as trophy fishing, shark finning and even shark meat is becoming more popular. However, although charismatic species help highlight the issues, others like the sawfish are often neglected.”

Genetics can be a puzzling topic when trying to understand how populations evolve and what that means for the ecosystem. Though the idea of population genetics isn't too complex, the results can sometimes be difficult to interpret and link up with biological aspects. Pressures such as those from fishing; fitness against disease; or a virus that could then wipe out a population, can all be assessed with genetics. Where chances of survival are decreased, population bottlenecks can lead to inbreeding. Negative effects could be deformities, cancer, infertility, birth defects.

Gibbs Kuguru is a final year candidate for his MSc in Gene-tics from Stellenbosch University. His research is primarily focused on the smooth hammerhead sharks in South Africa, but he has also worked with other sharks for fisheries ma-nagement purposes. He came to South Africa four years ago and worked in the cage diving industry for 2½ years in Mossel Bay with White Shark Africa. There he was introduced to sharks for the first time and hasn't stopped pursuing them since.

Gibbs does not profess to have all the answers and the population of smooth hammerheads in SA is not certain, but hopefully his studies will reveal some useful answers for future work to build upon.

Secrets of the Hammerhead revealed

Gansbaai Courant

Gansbaai Courant provides the Gansbaai community with the latest in news and interesting stories about and around the area.

View Profile

What is Xplorio?

Xplorio is your local connection allowing you to find anything and everything about a town.

Watch the Gansbaai Video
Read More

Other Articles

The Erica Irregularis

The Erica Irregularis

Located near the southern tip of South Africa, the Cape Floral Kingdom is the most diverse floral kingdom in the world...

Bucket list stuff!

Bucket list stuff!

Our popular Premium Beach Trail is suitable for all ages and for riders with all levels of experience...

Ready Steady Go

Ready Steady Go

After a well deserved break, we are back & ready to tackle the second half of the year!

Goedvertrou Guest Farm
What happens when inheriting a property?

What happens when inheriting a property?

Questions to ask that will help you make decisions.

Seeff Gansbaai
July Holiday Trails

July Holiday Trails

Make the most of this beautiful weather and book your Beach Trail with us...

Lunar Eclipse & Mars's close approach

Lunar Eclipse & Mars's close approach

July's stargazing evening will be held at the Club's premises in Pearly Beach on the evening of the 27th July to coincide with the total lunar eclipse and Mars's close..

See All Articles