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NATURE: Sharkland
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An astounding variety of sharks inhabit the southern coast of Africa


Nature: Sharkland

Delve into the World of the Sharks that Lurk in the Waters Off the Tip of Southern Africa

ORIGINAL BROADCAST: Sunday, 8/23/2009 at 8 p.m. on CPTV

EIn 1975, a gigantic great white shark began to terrorize the world. But Hollywood has nothing to compare with the waters off the tip of southern Africa, one of the sharkiest coasts on Earth. Roughly 140 different shark species of all shapes, sizes and dispositions hunt there, brought together by a pattern of warm and cold ocean currents unlike anywhere else on the planet. NATURE swims with leopard cats and coppers, the speedy mako, the great white and many others with "Sharkland" narrated by Academy Award-winning actor F. Murray Abraham.

The shark gathering includes species that are normally found oceans apart. Some are swept there by a ribbon of warm water, the Agulhas current, snaking down the eastern coast of Africa from the tropical Indian Ocean. Fifteen-foot-long tiger sharks will eat almost anything — they're garbage disposals incarnate — and are the most aggressive and successful predators in the immediate area. Whale sharks, the largest of all fish, can reach 50 feet in length.

Pregnant sand tiger sharks swim up to the warmer Agulhas waters from colder climes. Inside each female, a shocking case of preemptive survival of the fittest is taking place — her two largest unborn pups slowly eat their smaller siblings, a rare form of in utero cannibalism.

Other species seen in "Sharkland" include the short fin mako shark, the cheetah of the sea, which accelerates faster than a sports car and can reach 35 miles per hour. The blue shark, meanwhile, is the bloodhound of the sea. Its amazingly acute sense of smell can detect one drop of blood per 25 million drops of water, which helps it hunt in the inky depths a mile below the ocean surface. Learn more...

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