Kotkajärve Metsaülikool, finds swimming with sharks comforting and soothing. National Geographic Explorer Journal posted an update on Kaia's work online.
Is Chumming for Sharks Keeping Them Closer to Home?
Everyone has a “happy place,” that special somewhere that comforts and soothes him or her. For Kaia Tombak, a conservation biologist and National Geographic grantee, that happy place is underwater and surrounded by sharks.
“It feels a little bit like being transported into a different world … Sometimes it’s just a big wide blue open beautiful place where you have to go out to find things … and sometimes there’s something right there,” says Tombak, describing the Aliwal Shoal marine protected area off the coast of South Africa.
Aliwal Shoal is home to a bustling tourism industry, and chumming for sharks is one of the main attractions. “About two thousand tourists are doing this every year,” Tombak says. “And the locals have noticed some changes in shark populations over time.” She’s interested in finding out if the extra food is affecting sharks’ migration patterns and, specifically, if larger sharks are migrating less due to the abundance of free handouts.
Learning about the behaviors of sharks helps scientists understand and protect the entire ocean. “Sharks are apex predators, they’re at the top of the food chain. Without sharks, other components of the ecosystem fall apart,” says Tombak.
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Kaia Tombak likes swimming with sharks - NG