Creature of the Week…No animal invokes a primal feeling of fear quite like the great white shark, but we can’t help but be fascinated by them.
In New Zealand they are found in larger numbers around Stewart Island and the Chatham Islands in the summer, and tagging at these sites has shown them to migrate to the tropical and subtropical Pacific in winter (see map).
Cage diving with white sharks in NZ has been the source of some controversy. A scientific review of cage diving concluded that “it’s unlikely sharks exposed to cage diving are more or less likely to present a risk” (https://lnkd.in/fjZjvW5), but several Stewart Island locals have reported changes in white shark behaviour since cage diving operations began in 2008. There have apparently been many more sightings close to boats, with sharks often following a boat for some time and occasionally displaying aggressive behaviour.
Cage diving is currently unregulated in New Zealand, unlike in Australia. DOC introduced a permitting system in 2014 aimed at reducing the risk of harm to the sharks, but a court order revoked this system in 2017, reverting it back to an unregulated activity (https://lnkd.in/f9MA3rX). Photo credit to DOC and M. Francis.