Shark Species that can be found in Plettenberg Bay
The puffadder shyshark:
Have you ever wondered what a “Shy Shark” is? And no, it’s not a timid Great White that wants to be friends. The Puffadder shyshark is a species of small, bottom-dwelling catshark with a slender, flattened body and head which only reaches up to 60cm in length. They have unique coloration, with a pattern of dark bands and reddish-orange blotches on their bodies, which helps them blend in with their surroundings. Puffadder shysharks are endemic to the waters of the coast of South Africa, occuring only from the Langebaan Lagoon, Western Cape through to Algoa Bay, Eastern Cape. Interacting with these sharks is truly an experience of wonder. Be sure to check this off your diving bucket list!
The females lay one or two eggs at a time, in a little pouch called a “Mermaid’s Purse”. These egg cases have curly tendrils on either end which the female uses to attach the purse to marine life such as seafans. The embryo remains in the purse for up to 6 months. The baby shyshark then hatches out of the purse & swims away. Talk about being independent! The Puffadder shy sharks are not dangerous to humans and feed mainly on crustaceans, bristle worms, and small bony fish. When threatened, this shark curls its body into a circle with its tail over the eyes, almost as if it’s shy to see you – hence the name ‘Shy Shark’.
The pyjama shark:
The Pyjama shark is a small nocturnal species that is found in the southern coast of Africa. The name is derived from its distinctively patterned skin which resembles the stripes on a pair of pyjamas (think of the Bananas in Pyjamas cartoon). These sharks like living in rocky reef habitats where they seek shelter during the day; we have regular sightings of them often piled on top of each other with their heads tucked into a rocky crevice. They emerge at night to hunt for food, and mainly feed on small fish, crustaceans, squids and cuttlefish.
The leopard shark:
The Leopard shark is commonly found in shallow coastal waters. Its appearance is true to its name – a striking pattern of dark spots or leopard-like markings are displayed across its slender body making this shark easily identifiable. Leopard sharks are known for their docile nature, often swimming in large groups peacefully. They feed primarily on small fishes, crabs, shrimp and bivalves. They use their specialized teeth and powerful jaws to crush the shells of their prey.
As we continue to explore and understand our marine ecosystems, these fascinating sharks remind us of the wonders that lie beneath the sea.