Most anyone who has seen Shark Week has most likely seen towing. Towing is where a seal decoy is dragged behind the boat in an attempt to study how sharks attack their prey. At Oceans Campus, most of the time we are unable to photograph anything while we are towing because we are researching something for an outside source; however, on this occasion, we were using our regular control decoys because a photographer from National Geographic was with us. He wanted to get pictures of a white shark breach (when they propel themselves out of the water).
White sharks’ main source of food this time of year is seals because the seal pups are about a year old and venturing out from the island more. There is actually a “nursery” of sorts at Seal Island where the seal pups play in the water, but are protected from open water by rocks. The decoy is a thick piece of foam cut in the outline of an average size seal. When we tow, we let out the decoy so that it is about 15 meters behind the boat. Then we drive slowly back and forth in front of seal island. Each pass to the other side and back counts as a single pass.
Unfortunately, on this particular time, we did not see any breaches, but we did have a shark go for the decoy almost immediately after we placed it in the water. We had not even gotten it very far from the boat yet. The attempt was a little half-hearted by the shark, but it was still amazing to see.