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Seal Island: Domain of the Flying Sharks

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Seal Island, South Africa. A 200 meter long island surrounded by 55 to 57 degrees Fahrenheit waters, covered with over 60,000 seals and some birds. That's right, this island has gone to the animals. Sound like your idea of paradise? The seals and birds, however, are not the island's claim to fame. The real stars are the Great White Sharks that leap out of the water to catch the seals they are hunting.

Now, I know what you're thinking: You're joking. There is no way that a 15 foot long, 3,000 pound shark can hurl its body out of the water and catch a seal in midair. Well, think again, because these sharks, nicknamed "Air Jaws", do. From April until September, more than a dozen sharks patrol the waters, making what scientists call a "Ring of Death".

Over the years, the seals have gotten smarter; now, they go out in groups of seven and eight to feed. They swim down on the sea floor, which gives them extra camouflage, and when they have to swim near the surface, they swim in a zig-zag pattern. But for all their tricks, they can still be outwitted by the sharks. Usually, the shark will corner one seal away from its group and force it to swim at the surface, where it is easy prey. Sometimes, the seal gets lucky and gets away, but most of them die in their frantic attempts to survive.

Every year, tourists flock to see these amazing creatures leap out of the water, sometimes flinging their whole bodies into the air in their frenzied attempts to catch their prey. Some people even insist on getting into shark cages to see the action from below! Africa certainly has a breathtaking and dangerous tourist attraction on their hands.




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Emily said...
Feb. 24, 2009 at 1:58 pm:
Looove it! This is my favorite world tour or international fantastical or travel and culture article of yours!
 
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Buster said...
Feb. 13, 2009 at 8:25 pm:
Wow! I love this article! I didn't know a thing about Seal Island until I read it. Great job!!!
 
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