How sharks owned the Internet in 2015

In 2015, it was the shark that became the apex predator of the Internet.

Forget Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian or Donald Trump, from shark attacks, shark rescues, shark bites and shark fights, here's how the prehistoric species owned cyberspace this year.

One of them attacked a world champion surfer

There can't be any more dramatic sporting event in 2015, or perhaps ever, than when Mick Fanning was attacked by a great white at the start of the final of the J-Bay Open in South Africa.

When the cameras stayed rolling and for a few brief moments a wave obscured the fighting Fanning, he looked like he was a goner.

The fact he survived gave surfing one of its greatest ever comebacks and most-watched clips.

Others attacked in clusters

Warning signs after the latest attack in Hawaii.
Warning signs after the latest attack in Hawaii.

This year, a cluster of high-profile fatalities and attacks occurred in quick succession at spots around the world.

There were 14 attacks in Australia's New South Wales, seven in Northern Carolina (and all in the space of 20 days) and six in Hawaii.

Reunion Island, however, is still the cluster capital of the world. When Eddy Chaussalet, 47, was attacked while surfing off the shoreline near Le Port in September, it was the 17th attack on a human in four years.

Big sharks went for very small canoes

In this screen grab from NBC News, Mark McCracken fends off the hostile hammerhead shark, which was relentless in its pursuit of him.
Mark McCracken fends off the hostile hammerhead shark, which was relentless in its pursuit of him.

Fishing off kayaks seems to be a very effective way of both catching fish and attracting very large members of the Selachimorpha species.

In perhaps the most dramatic incident of the year off Florida Ben Chancey hooks a large shark, loses and retrieves his rod, is capsized and swims like mad toward a nearby support boat, climbs back into the kayak and, ultimately, catches the shark.

In another close call Mark McCracken fended off a hostile hammerhead shark, which then pursued him all the way the half mile to shore to Gaviota State Beach.

"Even after I got out of my kayak and made it to the beach, he was sitting right there," McCracken told NBC News. "It was pretty creepy."

But, Ben Crosby was perhaps the most lucky when the Santa Barbara angler was tossed into the water after his kayak attacked by a large great white shark.

And they got up close and personal

Deep Blue approaches the caged divers.
Deep Blue approaches the caged divers.

A combination of tiny POV cameras and ginormous sharks mean that we have been able to get up close and personal with these prehistoric beasts for the first time.

When footage emerged from Mexico's Guadalupe Island of a female shark named Deep Blue, who measured 20-plus feet with the girth of a small elephant, the internet sizzled.

Elsewhere on the East Coast in June a 1,200 pound tiger shark was tagged and released.

In November, Vince McKaney a 35-year commercial fishing veteran, encountered what he believed was a 4000 pound great white.

"What it was, it was massive. I could have jumped in his mouth," he said. "He would have ate me like an aspirin."

But, we still love them

Despite the attacks, humans still want to help sharks. Maybe it's the fact that we kill more than a 100 million of them each year or maybe it's the respect granted to a fascinating, if a little unpredictable, sea creature.

In Maine, a dozen beachgoers spent several hours in ultimately futile effort to save a 30-foot basking shark.

Elsewhere, after a 14-foot great white shark washed ashore in Whitecrest Beach in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, over 100 beachgoers began digging a trench to the ocean and tried to pull the shark back into the water.

Texan Logan Lakos, 18, acted alone (see above) and a video of him pulling a large hammerhead ashore by its tail in Destin, Florida, to save the shark's life went viral.

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