Divers were monitoring tiger sharks feeding from a decomposed sperm whale when they encountered a 20-foot behemoth great white shark!
The divers were in waters off the coast of Oahu’s North Shore when they got the rare treat of swimming and frolicking with “Deep Blue”, believed to be one of the largest great white sharks in the world.
One of the divers, Kimberly Jeffries said, “The sheer size of her was awe-inspiring. I think in the first couple of seconds when we first realized it was a great white, I thought my heart was going to explode. But then, after that initial racing, and you shift into work mode, it kind of goes away.”
Jeffries said she never felt threatened by “Deep Blue,” who was initially spotted near Hawaii earlier this week. “I felt pretty confident, that with such a readily available food source, there was no danger whatsoever.”
Another diver, Ocean Ramsey wrote on Instagram, “I waited quietly, patiently, observing as she swam up to the dead sperm whale carcass and then slowly to me, passing close enough I gently put my hand out to maintain a small space so her girth could pass.”
Eventually, Ramsey’s gloved hand caressed the shark. “What some don’t realize is that sometimes sharks seek touch,” she said.
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I waited quietly, patiently, observing as she swam up to the dead sperm whale carcass and then slowly to me passing close enough I gently put my hand out to maintain a small space so her girth could pass. I know some people criticize touch but what some don’t realize is that sometimes sharks seek touch, she swam away escorted by two rough-toothed dolphins who danced around her over to one of my @oneoceandiving shark research vessels and proceeded to use it as a scratching post, passing up feeding for another need. I wish more people would have a connection with sharks and the natural world, because then they would understand that it’s not petting sharks or pushing them off to maintain a respectable space that is hurting sharks (because trust me if she didn’t like being pet she can handle and communicate 🦈) it’s the wasteful and cruel practice of grabbing and catching sharks to cut off their fins (which slowly kills them) for #sharkfinsoup in a process called #sharkfinning or the wasteful #sharkfishing or #sharksportfishing If it bothers you that I touched the shark please click on one of the hashtags above and leave them a negative comment first 😉 #HelpSaveSharks #SpreadAwareness #FinBanNow #bansharkfinning #Sharkfin Vid shot on my @gopro #gopro3000 #goproforacause out with @oneoceandiving with @juansharks ❤️ @mermaid_kayleigh 💙 @camgrantphotography ❤️ @forrest.in.focus 💙 @oneoceanresearch @oneoceanglobal @waterinspired @oneoceansharks @oneoceanhawaii @oneoceaneducation #savetheocean #sharktouch #touchingsharks #oneoceanteam #discoversharks #discoverocean #greatwhitesharkinhawaii #freedivingwithsharks #whitesharkhawaii #deadwhalehawaii #dolphinsandsharks #🤙🏽 #Hawaii #sharka 🤙🏽🦈
It seems the possibly pregnant behemoth was in an especially playful mood, according to Ramsey, who noted that the apex predator was flanked by two rough-toothed dolphins “who danced around her.”
Shark expert Jelle Atema, professor emeritus at Boston University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution researcher, said the shark, believed to be more than 50 years old, is a freak of nature.
“In any population you can get those who are extremely large and extremely small,” Atema told the Boston Herald. “It is impressive. Enjoy the photos but don’t go swimming there.”
Chris Lowe, director of the shark lab at California State University of Long Beach, told NPR the great white’s markings match those of the Internet-famous creature, who first made a splash when she was caught on camera five years ago.
Additionally, Lowe said it makes sense that it would be Deep Blue because “female sharks usually swim out to the middle of the Pacific, sometimes as far out as Hawaii, for two years before they come back to California or Mexico to have their pups.”
“Nobody knows for sure why they do it,” Lowe continued, explaining that Deep Blue was spotted off the coast of California over a year ago.
Based on tracking data the female sharks typically return to the west coast — either Baja California, Mexico or California — in the early spring to deliver their pups.
Regardless, Lowe said tagging data indicates three female sharks have been recorded feasting on the “floating buffet” that is the dead sperm whale carcass off of Oahu.
“For a female that’s carrying six babies – two to ten babies that will be born at about 4 and a half to 5-feet long, weighing about 40 pounds a piece – that’s more than just a meal. It’s like five Thanksgiving feasts all in one go,” he said.
Shark populations around Hawaii have been declining for years and Ramsey said she hopes Deep Blue’s moment in the spotlight will also shine a light on much-needed shark protection legislation.
“There are currently no laws to protect sharks from being killed” except for a ban on killing them for their fins,” she wrote in a statement. “And even that law has many loop holes,” she added.
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