This paper presents the first quantitative study on the seasonal occurrence and body location of white shark (Carcharodon carcharias)-inflicted injuries on Cape fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus) at Black Rocks, in Algoa Bay. Between January 2010 and October 2011, 22 boat trips were made to Black Rocks to chum for white sharks. On 19 of the trips a series of overlapping photographs were taken of the northern side of Black Rocks and the percentage of seals, which exhibited fresh white shark bite wounds recorded. A total of 53 sharks and 28 fresh shark-inflicted injuries were recorded on seals over the course of the study period. The maximum number of sharks sighted per hour (1.2) was in July and the highest percentage of shark bitten seals in November (0.6%). There was no significant relationship between the monthly sighting rate of sharks and the percentage of shark bitten seals (P = 0.40). The percentage of shark-inflicted injuries observed on seals increased with seal size. Most injuries were observed in the forebody (37.5%) and lower body regions (37.5%). Very few injuries (6.3%) were observed in the head and neck region. The low number of bite-inflicted injuries observed suggests that white sharks attack seals infrequently at Black Rocks.
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Vol. 48 • No. 2