In South Africa’s False Bay, Cape Fur seals gather by the tens of thousands to escape the ocean’s largest predatory fish – the great white shark.
Here at Seal Island, seals rest and breed between migrations into the rich fishing grounds beyond. But these seals must run a gauntlet of shark-infested waters around the island to venture out into the open ocean. Massive great white sharks wait below, invisible in the dark depths, waiting to ambush their prey.
Great whites are awe-inspiring predators, averaging fifteen feet in length and weighing up to 5,000 pounds. Thanks to a torpedo-shaped body, great whites are streamlined and swift in the water – they can reach speeds of up to 15 miles per hour – but they can also propel their bodies out of the water when attacking prey from below. Great white sharks have up to 300 serrated, triangular-shaped teeth, designed to shred flesh.
But seals have excellent hearing and sharp eyesight. They’re graceful in the water and agile on the move – they can leap from the water, zigzagging in an acrobatic performance that confuses predators. Seals live and travel in groups for safety.
When venturing out to feed, first the seals dive deep into the water, as a visible silhouette on the surface makes them an easy target. But the most dangerous zone of all is the first four-hundred yards beyond the island… There, it’s a battle between predator and prey in an heart-pumping fight for survival.
Join behavioral scientist Alta de Vos and National Geographic shark expert Ryan Johnson and witness the extraordinary….
Check out Escaping the Great White TONIGHT at 8 PM et/pt on Nat Geo Wild!
Video Preview: “Faking Out Great Whites” – In order to prove that great whites strike fur seals at random, researchers send out decoy groups to see which seals are attacked.