Meet Riley, an immature Great White Shark in Mossel Bay

Ocearch’s tracking technology allows researchers to monitor sharks movements throughout the world’s oceans, providing valuable insight into their behavior and their range.

Each shark is tagged with a tracking device that is inserted through their dorsal fin, and whenever they break the surface of the water, a signal is transmitted to a satellite. The satellite then sends back an estimated location of the shark.

Each of these ‘pings’ give researchers an accurate, real time location of a particular shark, allowing them to collect data about each individual.

During the tagging process, tests are done on the shark which determines their species, age, sex, weight, length and stage of life. From the data collected a profile is then setup for the shark on Ocearch’s official tracking website.

Researchers are then able glean the extent of the shark’s territory, the distance they have covered since their tagging and monitor their behavior.

This also allows members of the public to observe each shark’s movements and possibly dive in the area it occupies, all the while knowing a bit of the animal’s history.

Expectedly, each shark displays their own particular habits, which coastlines they prefer and the depth at which the like to swim. It’s interesting to follow a particular individual and see what they get up to, how much distance they cover in comparison to other sharks and whether they prefer shallow or deep waters.

Profile: Riley

Riley the Great White Shark

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Species: Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias)

Gender: Male

Weight: 301 kg

Length: 3.1 metres

Stage of Life: Immature

Total distance covered: 14838.15 km

Tag Location: Mossel Bay

One of those sharks is Riley. A young great white, Riley is yet to reach maturity and is some way off the size of the older adult sharks, who can weigh over 2000 kilograms.

Tagged off the coast of Mossel Bay in 2012, Riley spends most of his time trawling the cool southern Indian Ocean in search of the tastier fish known to frequent those waters, at times coming quite close to the French overseas territory of Saint Paul Island.

Great Whites are known for their long migration routes throughout the year and Riley seems to enjoy traveling more than most, having covered an incredible 15000 kms since he was tagged five years ago.

When he’s not enjoying trips down South, Riley frequents the Southern African coastline and divides his time along the eastern and western coasts of the country, with occasional forays into the area considered Mozambique’s coastline.

As popular hunting grounds for great whites, False Bay is a great spot forshark cage diving. As is Mossel Bay and Riley is no different, spending the winter months in these hotspots for prey before embarking on another adventure.

It seems as though Riley is missing something, though, because despite his extensive travels, he has yet to visit Gansbaai. Maybe he hasn’t heard, but it’s considered the great white capital of the world. Perhaps another Mossel Bay local Helen could let him know next time he’s in town.

Though Riley is unlikely to show up to the shark cage diving party in Cape Town anytime soon, book your next great white shark tour with Shark Bookings and you’ll be able to spot sharks just like him up close in their natural habitat.

Credit: All data found on

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