It’s inevitable — when a Great White makes the news, it’s never for an unexpected act of kindness. Interactions with sharks either go uneventfully or with a heart-pounding tension.
Comparisons to Jaws abound, and we all remind ourselves to be a little more afraid of these powerful, fearsome creatures. But that’s not always the full story! For a video that went viral in 2016, context is everything.
Posted by Gabe and Garrett, a kid-friendly channel documenting a family’s ocean adventures, the video shows a Great White lunge at a shark cage, punching through the steel bars as a diver inside narrowly escapes.
Onlookers in the video are clearly terrified, and this reaches a fever pitch when the shark erupts from the top of the cage, bleeding, and thrashes free before the diver climbs out, thankfully uninjured.
Viewers were quick to make several assumptions in the comments, urging the divers to “leave the sharks alone,” and expressing dismay that a Great White could, without warning, lunge for a human target and even breach a cage in the process.
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While the incident was, no doubt, incredibly dangerous, the full story is a little more complicated. For a start, the shark was actually lunging at a hunk of tuna, bait designed specifically to attract it to the area.
While it “might appear to be an aggressive great white shark trying to attack the cage, this is not the case,” the channel wrote in the video’s description. “These awesome sharks are biting at large chunks of tuna tied to a rope. When a great white shark lunges and bites something, it is temporarily blinded. They also cannot swim backwards. So this shark lunged at the bait, accidentally hit the side of the cage, was most likely confused and not able to swim backwards, it thrust forward and broke the metal rail of the cage.”
While it was accidental, the incident still left the diver in danger. Acting fast, he dropped out of the bottom of the cage. Two other Great Whites circled below as the cage was filled with the fast-lunging original Great White.
“The diver is a very experienced dive instructor, remained calm, and when the shark thrashed back outside the cage, the diver calmly swam back up and climbed out completely uninjured,” the channel notes, adding, “the boat crew did an outstanding job, lifting the top of the cage, analyzing the frenzied situation, and the shark was out after a few long seconds.”
So, while the video does look uncannily like the heart-stopping scene from Jaws, context makes the shark’s actions a little less malicious.
The team, which was analyzing Great Whites for conservation purposes, responded expertly as well, making the whole event just another day on the job (not one I’d sign up for, personally!).
Watch the full video below!Whizzco