Australians may not know and will be unhappy to discover that South African waters are far from pristine, with toxic runoff from factories and farms entering coastal waters. Local sharks are apex predators and, as bioaccumulators, they retain heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic.
It was a bizarre and disturbing sight. About 100 sharks - beheaded, finned and gutted - dumped on Strandfontein beach along the False Bay coast. Why were they there? What was their intended destination before being illegally abandoned? Who was responsible?
The pile of dismembered bodies were mostly soupfin sharks. Word has it they were from either Gansbaai or Struisbaai, destined for a fish processing plant in Cape Town, but they had gone off and been dumped. A problem of Stage 6 load shedding, perhaps. But was there a bigger backstory?
The search for answers would lead from demersal shark longliners - line fishermen and trawlers - by way of the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry (DEFF), to the danger of eating fish and chips in Australia. It would also suggest, in part, reasons for the recent decline in the number of great...