The sharks of the Umzimkulu

The sharks of the Umzimkulu

The second Zambezi taken on rod and line in the Umzimkulu River this year. It was released healthy and spitting mad!

The second Zambezi taken on rod and line in the Umzimkulu River this year. It was released healthy and spitting mad!

Another sighting down at the Umzimkulu Marina this weekend, confirms that the family of Zambezi Sharks who have taken up residence in the Umzimkulu River, are alive and well. This last one was spotted giving a big blue tailed mullet hell, chasing it around and around, right off the jetty.


The jetty down at the Umzimkulu Marina was where the last sighting of one of the the Zambezi Sharks was confirmed…the river mouth has been closed for some time, so the Zambezi’s have been trapped in! They will most likely stay in residence here until they reach 2 metres long, at which point they will take their chances and head out to the deep ocean.

Zambezi Sharks, known in Latin as Carcharhinus leucas, in Australia a Bull Shark, and in some places, a Java Shark, have a gestation period of approximately a year, after which time the pups, at about 70cm in length, are born. Zambezi’s are viviparous (the babies are born alive and well, after being fed by a placenta while inside the womb). About a dozen are born with each litter. Very young bull sharks (1 metre or less) are frequently found in bays and beaches near the mouths of rivers, in briny water.

The Umzimkulu River is a perfect hatchery for Zambezi’s. Evidently, a big female (they can reach 3.5m and 350 kilograms), swam into the Umzimkulu about a year ago, and gave birth to a litter of cubs. They were being spotted and encountered by fishermen up and down the banks, but only once Marius Awcamp caught one on a live bait down at Spiller’s Wharf, in Port Shepstone, were they confirmed as mini Zambezi sharks.

A few days later,a  local angler was paddling his fishing ski down towards the mouth, when he found half a perch flapping on the surface. It had been bitten clean in half – but was still alive and splashing.

Then we got this one pictured above…on a Rapala up in the top corner, under Royston’s Hall – in the deep water against the rocks. It took a Strike Pro bought from Lucky’s in Port Shepstone – a white one – 10cm model.

The Zambezi is responsible for attacking more people than any other shark – by far. It has the highest testosterone count of any animal alive, and eats anything. Literally. The Zambezi shark is found in all tropical and subtropical oceans and seas along the coastlines and also in some fresh water rivers. It does not venture very far out to sea, preferring the murky inshore waters for their ambush style of hunting. They are aptly names after the Zambezi River – the fourth largest river system in Africa – where they have been encountered hundreds of kilometres inland, in completely fresh water.

These smaller sharks however, do not pose the threat to your health, that pollution in the Umzimkulu does. The raw sewage that flows into the river daily is far more dangerous to your health. Overall, the Umzimkulu River is much better for fishing than swimmin! Rather go to a Blue Flag Beach to cool down this summer!

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