Tiger shark sends clear, intimidating message to snorkeler; video

A snorkeler in Australia dared to follow and videotape a tiger shark that was attempting to dine on a sea turtle when the predator suddenly turned its attention to its version of the paparazzi.

"I was aware of the situation I had put myself in and knew I had to keep my distance to avoid interfering with nature," Tim Van Beelen, the snorkeler, said in a Facebook post. "What happened next I definitely did not expect and will never forget!!!"

Van Beelen of Coral Bay, Western Australia, posted video of what happened next (the real action begins around the 1:20 mark):

Van Beelen surfaced several times to get a breath before diving down toward the sea bottom to get a closer view of the tiger shark.

He then surfaced and yelled out to a boatful of other snorkelers who dared not enter the water, "This is nuts, man."

Moments later, the tiger shark showed him how nuts it was, turning and swimming toward him with its mouth wide open. Fortunately, it turned away.

A tiger shark turns its attention to a snorkeler. Photo: Courtesy of Tim Van Beelen

"This was not an attack, it was simply a warning [for me] to get away from his food," Van Beelen wrote. "You can see how slowly the shark swims up and doesn’t even attempt to bite me. If he wanted me, he would’ve had me plain and simple."

Van Beelen's message is clear: respect sharks, don't "hate" sharks.

"I came away from this experience with a lot of thoughts but have not grown any fear, if anything a ton more respect for these amazing animals," Van Beelen wrote. "Tiger sharks are not hunters they are scavengers, basically the garbage truck of the ocean. They only target sick or wounded prey, and as you can see here do not attack with much aggression. They are not the sharks the media makes them out to be, they are very placid and generally avoid any contact with us."

Incidentally, the underwater camera Van Beelen is holding in front of him was given to him by another snorkeler who stayed on the boat. He said he didn't really know how to use it, but he obviously had no problem with the video camera.

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