The non-profit group Atlantic White Shark Conservancy has shared an awesome video of one of their close encounters with a great white shark off the coast of Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Biologist Greg Skomal was at the boat's bowsprit in the hopes of tagging a shark when a great white breached right beneath his feet, giving him quite the fright. Expert or no, if a great white shark leaps at you, you’d still leap out of the way.
“While out on research trips, we've seen white sharks breach and we've received multiple reports of breaching white sharks this year from fishermen and boaters. White sharks are wild and unpredictable animals,” the organization writes under the video.
Despite the scare, the biologist was perfectly safe. Great white sharks seldom attack humans. It is estimated that there are only around 80 unprovoked shark attacks on humans per year, and just a small fraction of those attacks are fatal.
Sharks are often apex predators in their environment, which means they fear very little. That’s why when we intrude on their environment, they are interested in us. And since they don’t have limbs with which to explore their surroundings, giving a little nip to things is a sure way to realize if something is prey or not.
This was seen in some equally brilliant footage of a great white spotting an aquatic drone and checking whether or not it was edible. The shark eventually decided that it wasn’t tasty, and the drone survived with some dents and footage straight from the animal’s throat.
Sharks, which can have up to 3,000 teeth, don’t chew their prey. They give an initial bite and let the animal bleed out. They then rip chunks out of the victim and swallow those bits whole. This might seem gruesome, but humans kill way more sharks than they do us.
The organization, based in Massachusetts, is doing important work for shark conservation. On this particular expedition, they were able to tag a 3.5-meter (roughly 12 feet) white shark, making it the eighth individual tagged this season. Atlantic White Shark Conservancy is committed to raising awareness of white sharks by supporting research, public safety, and conservation.