A passenger on a shark-diving expedition off South Australia has captured rare footage of a large great white shark attacking a smaller white shark.
It remains unclear, however, whether that was the larger shark's intention, at least initially, or whether it had merely been going after the bait when the smaller shark, after making a pass at the bait, got in its way. (See video.)
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The fate of the smaller shark also remains unclear.
Adam Malski, 33, was back on the boat at the time of the dramatic clash, which he captured on video. The rare event also was witnessed by the captain and dive master near Neptune Island, 50 miles at sea.
The bait, presumably a large fish, had been tied to a rope and set beyond the stern. Cages are beneath the surface behind the stern, allowing divers to get up-close views of sharks as they’re lured in by the scent of the bait.
Malski told the U.K. Mirror: "The day where the shark attacked the other was surreal. I asked the dive master and skipper of the boat what would happen if a smaller shark got in the way of a larger shark. The skipper responded: 'The big shark would take the smaller one down.'
"Literally six seconds later, that amazing scene was witnessed by me, the skipper, and the dive master. They had never seen anything like it before."
The footage was making the rounds Tuesday on Facebook, and shark experts were chiming in.
The Marine Science Conservation Institute, run by Michael Domeier, commented:
"Very interesting white shark vs. white shark moment caught on film. We have seen violent aggression between adult white sharks at Guadalupe Island … not so sure this is what’s happening in this clip. It looks like both sharks were going for the same bait and ended up mouth-to-mouth. Didn’t end so well for the little guy!"
Mexico's Guadalupe Island is one of the world's premier shark-diving destinations, in part because of the amazing water clarity. I've been on two dives there and observed from topside larger sharks asserting their dominance as they and other sharks maneuver around the stern, investigating the area close to the bait.
Martin Graf of the company Shark Diver added: "From my observations, it is unusual for a much bigger shark to bite a much smaller one. Typically those bites happen between sharks of similar size. Most sharks under about 9 feet at Guadalupe are pretty clean (free of scars). The biggest number of bites (aside from mating bites) are on males from about 11 feet to 14 feet long."
Passengers on most shark-diving expeditions, wherever the location, typically emerge with an enhanced appreciation of the apex predators, after being able to see them up close and watch how gracefully, yet cautiously, they maneuver through their realm.
Said Malski: "I spent many hours observing them in their territory and up close and saw 18 magnificent creatures in total. All of which were inquisitive but not aggressive.
“Even when one bumped my hand and camera when I was 20 meters underwater, there was no aggression—just inquisitiveness."
Most adult white sharks have unique markings, or scars, and outfitters often give them names.
The large shark that attacked the smaller shark is named Gilbert.
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