VIDEO: Odd shark sighting in river

Fisherman films shallow water broiling with fins on his phone

A young St Francis fisherman made a startling discovery recently when he came across a shoal of 30-odd sharks – in the river. Lawrence Everton, 20, filmed the bizarre gathering on his phone and sent it to his dad, who sent it on to his mother and in no time it was going viral on social media site Facebook.

Everton, who works as a security guard for SmHart Security, was patrolling on Sunday afternoon in Kromme Shareblock, a residential area north of St Francis Bay, when he heard splashing.

He knew there was a nearby creek which ran into the Kromme River and he went down to the water to investigate.

He could not believe what he saw.

“I’ve been fishing since I was a kid – and I’ve been in St Francis eight years – and I’ve never seen so many sharks packed together like that.

“I was amazed and exclaiming out loud while I was filming them with my phone.

“Sorry about the swearing.”

The sharks, each between 1m and 2m, were circling around, sometimes struggling to get past each other in the shallow water.

Everton said the spot was 150m to 200m from the Kromme itself and about 1km from the river mouth.

Earlier commentators suggested the sharks had swum upriver to escape a sudden downturn in the temperature in the bay, a pronounced phenomenon in Eastern Cape waters.

This also tallied with one definitive report from Cape St Francis on Friday that the ocean had turned swimmers blue with cold. But Everton said the bay itself had been slightly warmer than normal over the last few days.

Long-time St Francis Bay fisherman Tim Christy said he was astonished by what he had seen in the video.

“We do sometimes see these sharks in the estuary but never so high up the river and never in such numbers. I’ve never seen anything like this before and I’ve been here 29 years.”

He said the only other possibly related clue was the unusual number of ragged-tooth sharks in the Kromme mouth area at present.

“Otherwise the temperature in the bay is normal and chokka catches are still rocketing, which they’ve been doing ever since the drought hit us.”

Bayworld shark specialist Dr Malcolm Smale said the sharks were a familiar, harmless coastal species called smooth hound shark.

The typical temperature change cycle was triggered by sustained easterly winds which led to displacement of warm surface water and an upwelling of icy water from the seabed, he said.

“But sometimes you can have a layer of warm water at the top and cold at the bottom where they live.

“So either they were indeed trying to escape from this sudden temperature change, which causes them huge physiological stress – or they’ve come in to feed on burrowing prawns, which they suck from the mud.”

The smooth hound sharks are also called “gummies” because their teeth are like cobble stones, ideally shaped to crush prawns and crabs, although they also eat small fish.

Smale said while unusual, there had been previous reports of similar activity by sharks in the Kromme before.

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