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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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Michelle Jewell

Past Marine Dynamics Biologist

To Michelle, a born and bred American from Michigan, the sea resembles another planet within Earth full of thriving systems and unknown life. "So many of us gaze at the stars in wonder when we should be looking into our oceans!"

Michelle has always had a quest for knowledge and a special interest in animal behaviour - especially predator and prey systems. She grew up in Davison, a suburb of Flint in the State of Michigan in the United States, where she obtained a BSc degree in Zoology with honours from the Michigan State University. An enthusiastic outdoor-adventurist, she partook in various educational, research and conservation projects that took her from the Antarctica to the jungles of Costa Rica before she fell in love with the prolific marine wildlife in Gansbaai. As part of the Marine Dynamics team, she is in her element exploring the mysteries of the sea and the behavioural patterns of the Marine Big Five and other marine animals. "The ocean has always fascinated me and the fact that we know more about the surface of the moon than the depths of our oceans is astonishing. I hope that my work here will inspire others to also look at the ocean in wonder and further protect the animal that is the sea."

Michelle specialised in animal behaviour during her undergraduate Zoology degree. Her MSc focused on the behavioural ecology between the Great white sharks and Cape fur seals. She is supervised by Prof. Justin O'Riain and Prof. Les Underhill of the University of Cape Town.

Michelle is currently a MARES scholar PhD candidate with the University of Groningen studying climate change impacts on predatory seabirds.