Diver criticized for great white shark selfie

Great white shark selfie
Peter Verhoog captures great white shark selfie; video screen grab

Capturing selfies that feature animals is a popular trend, but this practice is not always regarded as safe—and this would certainly seem to be the case when the animal is a great white shark.

Peter Verhoog, director of the Dutch Shark Society, successfully managed to capture a great white shark selfie while cage-diving at Mexico’s Guadalupe Island.

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He did this by leaning far out of the cage and positioning his camera so it captured his face with the shark passing by. The event was videotaped and the accompanying images are screen grabs.

Verhoog, 59, is referred to as a “brave photographer” by the Daily Mail, and the photographer said he did not feel as though what he did was dangerous.

“I began making selfies with all kinds of sharks—mostly for fun,” Verhoog said. “Only later I realized that they could show people what sharks are like—when behaving normally, there is no danger.

sharkselfie3.jpeg
Peter Verhoog leans out of the cage as great white shark approaches; video screen grab

“People are not a prey for great white sharks—they feed on fish and marine mammals, like seals.”

But not everybody is impressed.

Shark Diver, a commercial outfitter that offers cage-diving trips at Guadalupe Island, was critical of the Daily Mail for glorifying Verhoog’s behavior, and of Verhoog for passing his actions off as being safe.

“When it comes to sharks, the news coverage is pretty atrocious,” wrote Shark Diver’s Martin Graf, in a blog post. “It seems like they either portray the sharks as mindless killers, or harmless pets. The people that get coverage, are invariably doing something stupid, or flat illegal.”

Graf placed Verhoog’s actions in the stupid category, and continued:

“This picture reminds me of a professional photographer who was leaning out of a cage, filming a shark and never realized that a second shark was coming at him, with his mouth open.

“If it wasn’t for another diver smashing his camera against the sharks nose, it would have taken the photographers head off. … It is not the shark that you see that will get you—it’s the one you never know is there.”

Graf went on to say that Verhoog could easily show what sharks are like without placing himself in the photo for the purpose of obtaining a selfie:

“Newsflash, while it is true that we are not on their menu, great white sharks are NOT harmless, especially when you are in a baited situation.”

Guadalupe Island, which is located 165 miles west of Baja California, is one of the world’s premier destinations for diving with great whites.

It’s worth noting that there have been fatal great white shark attacks at Guadalupe years ago, before cage-diving operations became established there.

Shark Diver and other cage-diving operators are concerned that if there is another fatal attack, Mexico might react by shutting down the operations.

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