Evasive seal escapes great white shark

Seal Chases Great White Shark
Seal escapes great white shark by staying near its tail; photo by David Jenkins/Caters News Agency

South Africa's seals possess remarkable survival instincts, which are required if they're going to avoid being munched by great white sharks.

David Jenkins, on a recent photo expedition to Seal Island near Cape Town, captured an incredible sequence that makes it appear as though a seal is chasing after a massive white shark.

Seal Chases Great White Shark
Seals avoid jaws of breaching great white shark; photo by David Jenkins/Caters News Agency

The shark had just captured another seal during a leaping ambush attack, a technique for which the region's white sharks have become famous.

But what the seal really was doing is trying to avoid the jaws of the shark by staying near its tail.

White sharks strike hard and savagely, but give up quickly. If they miss during the initial ambush, a seal and nearby seals have an excellent chance to escape.

Seal Chases Great White Shark
Great white shark during its breach ambush attack; photo by David Jenkins/Caters News Agency

Jenkins, 42, had been following a group of seals that were returning to Seal Island.

"They come in groups usually and they are constantly interchanging positions with each other as they travel to try to confuse any predators waiting below," Jenkins told Caters News Agency.

"They started to move through an area of thick foam in the water when suddenly a large great white shark exploded through the foam high into the air, catching one of the seals as it did so. Some seals went back they way they had come, others made a break for safety of the nearby island, but one seal decided to follow the tail of the shark."

Seal Chases Great White Shark
Great white shark splashes down after the attack; photo by David Jenkins/Caters News Agency

Jenkins added: “Sharks have great speed but the seals have amazing agility. I have seen a seal have three separate battles on the way back to the island and still make it home."

But of course, the sharks near Seal Island manage quite well also, catching enough prey to survive.

Said Jenkins of capturing this sequence: "When a breach happens you just have to get the camera pointed in the right direction as quick as you can and start shooting photos. Then when the action is over and your heart is racing you get to see what you've taken."

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