When & Where & Why | Raggies at Aliwal Shoal | Raggies at Sodwana Bay | Raggies at Rocktail Bay
When do we sight the Raggies
Aliwal Shoal in our winter months – end June to November.
Sodwana bay in our summer months – December to March
Rocktail bay in our summer months – December - March
Where does the name Ragged-tooth come from?
A protruding set of teeth gives the raggie its name. Raggie teeth are designed for gripping (rather than cutting) prey, which is usually swallowed whole. This definitely removes us from the menu!!
With its short, pointed snout, small beady eyes and a mouth crammed full of needle-like teeth, the ragged-tooth shark oozes malevolence. Looks are misleading, however, and we have learnt that, unmolested, raggies are gentle and quietly accommodating despite their menacing appearance.
The future of the Spotted Ragged-tooth shark
Sadly this magnificent creature has been put on the IUCN Red List of Threatened species and is classed as Vulnerable or at high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future. Although they are currently classified as Near Threatened in South Africa, experts believe that research may yet prove them to be Vulnerable.
Raggies are a protected species within the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area (MPA) and may not be harvested in any form.
Raggie awareness course
Why not learn more about the spotted ragged-tooth shark and join us for a Shark awareness course / dives at either of these destinations. You will learn more about shark diving protocol, raggie behaviour, gender identification & reproduction.
The most famous visitors to Aliwal Shoal are without doubt the spotted ragged-tooth sharks, better known by locals as “raggies”.
Research shows that the sharks are constantly arriving and leaving the Shoal, most stay for about two weeks but some individuals may spend a few months.
There are 2 groups of raggies that visit Aliwal Shoal. The first is a sexually immature collection that moves into KZN waters during the winter months. In fact most raggies that visit the Shoal are sub-adult and sexually immature. The drop in water temperatures during this time effectively extends their range and once the waters warm they return to the cooler Cape waters.
The second collection consists of mature sharks that pass through during their breeding migration. The females arrive from the Eastern Cape and can be spotted from early winter in June or July, through to the end of spring in November or December. It is here that they meet their male counterparts for mating. (Although small numbers of males are found year round in Eastern Cape waters, the males’ whereabouts before and after mating remains mostly a mystery).
Some of the teeth found on the sand patch at Raggie Cave may have been lost during mating bites inflicted by the males.
After mating the females move up to Maputaland and southern Mozambique to spend the early part of their gestation in warmer waters. Here the pregnant females hover, almost motionlessly near the shallow reefs, saving energy while the pups grow in their uteri.
19 - 21ºC 5mm wetsuit minimum advised
22 - 26ºC 3mm / 5mm wetsuit advised
It appears that after mating the females move up to Maputaland KZN coast and southern Mozambique to spend the early part of their gestation in warmer waters. Here the pregnant females hover almost motionlessly near the shallow reefs, saving energy while the pups grow in their uteri. They can usually be seen at dive sites in Sodwana Bay and Rocktail Bay from December – March each year.
The “raggies” can be seen in large numbers in the warmer waters of Sodwana Bay (Maputaland KZN) in our summer months – December to March.
22 - 26ºC 3mm – 5mm wetsuit advised
The magnificent unspoilt coastline of Rocktail Bay (Maputaland KZN) is a further home for the raggie in the summer months. Island Rock is the favoured resting spot of the female raggies and they can be seen hovering motionlessly in the caves here. You do not have to be a scuba diver to witness the congregation of females. Their chosen resting spot is a shallow site and many a snorkeller has been able to float motionless on the surface to view the females.
22 - 26ºC 3mm – 5mm wetsuit advised