Divers had a great opportunity to swim alongside what could be the biggest shark in the world ever filmed.
If you are one of those who are afraid of sharks, great white shark in particular, then you are not alone. Not everyone understands a shark’s behavior. Even marine biologists are misled sometimes. But this group of divers led by Ocean Ramsey must have brought a lot of courage during that unexpected encounter.
She and her team only planned to monitor tiger sharks feeding on a sperm whale carcass on January 15 in Oahu, Hawaii. The decomposing marine mammal was pulled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 15 miles away from the Sand Island shoreline. She did not expect the sudden appearance of the famous great white shark, Deep Blue.
Starvation and the necessity for nutrients during pregnancy led the giant great white shark to follow whales. It so happened that the dead sperm whale’s body oozing with oil and blood drifted into the sea and reached Deep Blue’s strong sense of smell. This kind of marine species is not common in Hawaii since the water is too warm in comparison to the cold Pacific coast of California. There is an abundance of sea lions and elephant seals where predators like orcas feast on them aside from sharks.
Ramsey still elated said during the phone interview, “We saw a few tigers and then she came up and all the other sharks split, and she started brushing up against the boat. She was just this big beautiful gentle giant wanting to use our boat as a scratching post. We went out at sunrise, and she stayed with us pretty much throughout the day.”
She was able to identify Deep Blue based on the size of the great white shark and its markings. It was the same gentle predator she used to swim during research trips to Guadalupe Island, Mexico. Adding to her amazement were the presence of two dolphins accompanying her. Dolphins usually stay away from predators, especially great white sharks.
Diver and photographer Kimberly Jeffries was one of the lucky people who caught a glimpse of the beautiful massive great white shark. She took photos of ‘Deep Blue’ and submitted the images for review to shark photographer George Probst and the Marine Conservation Science Institute which confirmed the marine species is indeed Deep Blue. The said institute is a non-profit group campaigning for the conservation of marine resources while George runs the website, Sharkpix.com.
The great white shark was also confirmed to be indeed Deep Blue because of the tag implanted on her dorsal when the pregnant animal arrived at another spot several years ago.
In 2015, Deep Blue was featured in a documentary film created by Discovery Channel. The titanic great white shark during that time measured over 20 feet and presumed to be half a century old. According to the Smithsonian Institute, the average size of a female great white shark is between 15-16 feet, while the male ones are between 11-13 feet.
Deep Blue got her name from Mauricio Hoyos Padilla (Discovery Channel diver) who swam with her during the filming of the documentary. He was the diver who reached his hands out of the metal cage.
Meanwhile, Hawaii state officials announced a warning to both recreational divers and snorkellers to keep a distance from the water close to the decomposing sperm whale. Likewise, people are prohibited not to climb on top of the dead sea creature to take its teeth for a souvenir for safety reasons.
Hawaii has been the first nation to prohibit shark finning in 2010. However, Ramsey said that it doesn’t mean that anyone can’t kill sharks. She noted that every second, between two to three sharks, are being culled. People should be aware that sharks promote healthy marine ecosystems by feeding on dead and injured animals preventing diseases from transmitting.