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  • In Gansbaai, the largest white shark ever caught was at Danger Point and measured up to 5.9m. The exact world record white shark is a contested issue, but chances are it is between 6-7m.

  • If you see a white shark in the water don’t panic. Chances are high that the shark has already detected you and isn’t interested. White shark attacks are normally associated with poor visibility, so avoid murky conditions.

  • White sharks have a unique system called a “counter current heat exchange”, which keeps their body  tempreture +/- 7C above the surrounding water temperature. 

  • All sharks have an incredibly unique system on the tip of their nose called the “ampillae of Lorenzini”. These are small pores filled with a gel that transmits the electrical currents in the water to the shark’s brain so that it can assess its environment.

  • White sharks give birth to live young (not eggs), and they give birth to 6-8 pups at one time. Pups are usually between 1.0-1.5m in length and are born with teeth.

  • Body language has been a well documented form of shark communication and has identified body arching, jaw gaping, and other postures as specific social tactics.

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Our Marine Biologists

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Alison Towner

Marine biologist DICT, PhD Candidate.

Inspired from a young age by her late father's ambition to dive with White Sharks, Alison graduated from UK’S Bangor University in 2006 with a BSc Hons degree in Marine biology. After working in the Red Sea and Greek Islands as a PADI instructor, she joined the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, South Africa, in January 2007 and has remained on site ever since!

Alison spent the first 5 years as a guide for Marine Dynamics Shark Tours interacting daily with divers. This opportunity enabled her to collect extensive observational data on white sharks from which she completed her MSc through the University of Cape Town. With fellow colleagues at the DICT, Alison has presented at various international shark conferences and has authored multiple publications on white shark regional population dynamics, wound healing, movement ecology, tagging, as well as shark diet studies and global review papers. As a qualified SAMSA skipper, Alison continues with her research on white sharks in Gansbaai with a focus on tracking and telemetry. She is currently in progress with her PhD which examines driving factors of movement in white sharks.

Alison has worked extensively with the media and her research has been featured with National Geographic, BBC, Discovery channel among various other productions. The latest program Alison co-hosted ‘Air Jaws: The Hunted’ followed the intriguing and unprecedented events of orca predation on white sharks in South Africa. It rated as one of US cable TV’s most watched and downloaded programs in history with 1.9 million viewers, and 3.5 million streams the night it aired.

To access the published research by Alison see www.dict.org.za