This creative term refers to the spectacular and awe-inspiring group of marine animals that call the coast of Gansbaai their home. The term was originally created by Marine Dynamics and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and aptly suites these magnificent mammals that have become such an important attraction in the Overberg and South Africa. So, who else wants to learn more about the Marine Big 5™?
Our endangered African Penguin is an indicator species (meaning it shows whether the system is healthy or not) and sadly still face many threats – egg and chick predation by Kelp gulls and aggressive seals that predate on them merely for their stomach contents, not to mention the constant threat of oiling. With many dedicated individuals and organisations invested in the survival of the African Penguin, we can only hope that the decline can be halted and the numbers will recover.
Great White Sharks
Gansbaai has the highest aggregation of Great White Sharks in the world which is why people come from all over to see this legendary predator. The Great White Shark is a protected species in South African waters and a recent regional population study revealed much fewer than expected. Acoustic tagging and tracking studies are helping scientists better understand their fine scale movements within the area. No Great White has ever been seen pupping or mating and perhaps these studies as well as the 2012 satellite tagging programme can hopefully shed some light on these unanswered questions.
Southern Right Whales
Not only does Gansbaai have almost six months (July to December) of the mating and calving Southern Right Whales sitting just off our shores; but we are also lucky to see migrating Humpback Whales who display incredible breaching behaviour and the quite elusive Bryde’s Whale.
Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins
Common Dolphins move in large groups through the area, sometime over 1000 strong. The other species we are privileged to see are Humpback Dolphins and the Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins. The Humpback Dolphins tend to be in small groups and are found near the estuaries. We do not see Dolphins every day but they certainly round off a marine safari.
Cape Fur Seals
The Cape Fur Seal population is doing very well. Seal and Shark interactions around Dyer Island and Geyser Rock have been studied. Predations are high in winter as the young Seal pups born in November start to leave the colony for the first time. In summer the Sharks tend to move to the shallow areas so predations around Geyser Rock are lower.
For more fun facts on the Marine Big 5™ have a look at this great Infographic.
This article was submitted by the Gansbaai Tourism Bureau.