<iframe width=”620″ height=”340″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/E_6RpK7W2vU” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe> A photographer at Mexico’s Guadalupe Island has captured rare footage of a great white shark jumping clear out of the water next to a submerged cage full of divers.
Gerardo del Villar posted a video clip to Facebook and YouTube this past week and linked to a Spanish-language blog post about the island’s white sharks, which rarely breach, and for reasons that are unclear.
(Great white sharks that hunt in shallower, murkier water off South Africa are famous for their surprise breach attacks on seals.)
Del Villar suggested that Guadalupe’s breaching sharks could be trying to establish dominance in the presence of other sharks, or to remove parasites.
However, Shark Diver’s Martin Graf, whose company pioneered shark diving at Guadalupe Island, said that often it’s the smaller sharks that breach. The larger sharks are the dominant predators.
Said Graf: “There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Usually they breach without any chum or hang-baits in the water. Early morning and dusk seem to be their preferred times, but it can happen anytime.”
Michael Domeier, the Marine Science Conservation Institute president who has spent years studying Guadalupe Island white sharks, said he has seen only four breaches.
“It’s very rare,” Domeier said. “I think the lack of breaching behavior has more to do with the topography of the ocean floor at Guadalupe than it does individual hunting behavior. The bottom drops off very steeply at Guadalupe, while in South Africa the water is very shallow for miles.
“So the seals at Guadalupe can dive deep as they swim away from the island, using the rocks, etc, for cover as they move away. Seals in South Africa can’t go deep and they get nailed by the sharks at the surface.”
Graf said Shark Diver crews see between five and 10 breaches per season at Guadalupe and added: “It’s just rare that you actually get it on video, because the breaches are not usually by the bait.”
Guadalupe Island is a volcanic landmass 160 miles southwest of the Baja California city of Ensenada, beyond the continental shelf. The water is remarkably clear, with visibility often between 100 and 200 feet.
White sharks are seasonal residents, arriving in late summer and staying through early winter. They feed on elephant seals and sea lions, but also on large tuna.
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