Watch: SA's great white sharks hunt seals in kelp forests - which has surprised scientists
- Unique underwater footage reveals great white sharks make forays into kelp forests, which were supposed to keep them out.
- This unique behaviour has surprised scientists.
- The footage shows Cape fur seals blew bubbles back at them.
A paper published in the Royal Society journal has found that great white sharks swim through South African kelp forests to hunt Cape fur seals. This has surprised scientists, who previously believed these large predators stayed clear of these forests.
Some 28 hours of underwater footage track eight different sharks. It showed the sharks navigating through kelp channels.
When the sharks encountered Cape fur seals, their prey blew bubbles back at them to throw them off course.
According to the researchers this is the first video evidence of its kind showing the sharks' unique behaviour. It was observed around a Cape fur seal colony on Geyser Rock, in the Dyer Island Marine Reserve, near Gansbaai, South Africa.
Previously, kelp was thought to provide refuge for seals from great white sharks, as it does for similar animals like sea otters in California, the study explains.
The scientists believe that the abundance of kelp at Dyer Island (compared to other seal rookeries) could have forced the sharks to enter the forests.
For this study, animal-attached cameras (also known as AVEDs) equipped with motion sensing data-loggers were used. Previous research was limited to surface-based observations and using wire or radio signals, called coarse telemetry positioning.
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