When folks from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration towed a dead whale off a Hawaiian beach earlier this month because it was attracting tiger sharks, no one expected one of the biggest Great White sharks ever recorded to show up.
But that’s actually what happened. On top of that, the Great White was tentatively identified as Deep Blue, a 50-year-old, 20-foot/six-meter-long shark that had been originally tagged about 20 years ago off Guadelupe Island, Mexico.
Shark advocate Ocean Ramsey, who with her team had gone out to check out the tiger sharks feeding off the dead whale, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the tigers split when Deep Blue showed up.
Video and photos of her diving alongside the shark — and even touching it — went viral.
“Maybe my fav photo of me (@oceanramsey) and Shark ohana ? of all time so far ??? It’s so hard to choose, so many beautiful moments I am so eternally grateful for sharks please help save them. I am without words and at the same time I think I never stop speaking up for sharks, I am grateful beyond measure for my experiences and what they have taught me. This photo was taken yesterday off my home waters of Oahu, Hawaii when hey Shark I think I’ve met previously in Isla Guadalupe graced us with her big beautiful incredible presence ? I headed out with my team from @oneoceandiving (my ?? @juansharks ) and @mermaid_kayleigh @forrest.in.focus @camgrantphotography for a day I will never forget. I’ve been trying to get the bill re-introduced in Hawaii to ban the purposeful killing of sharks and rays and this just feels like the biggest sign to keep pushing forward for more protection for them. Shark populations around the planet are severely declined. They need protection from targeted shark fishing for shark been soup and sport fishing. Please speak up in your own community and help support international efforts.”
Needless to say, not everyone was happy with Ramsey’s close contact:
“swimming unprotected with this species where it cannot see you very well is not a good idea… I don’t think swimming with white sharks unprotected is a good idea when they are feeding”
. . . to which Ramsey subsequently issued a disclaimer on Instagram:
“Disclaimer: I highly discourage people from jumping into the water purposely with Great #WhiteSharks and TigerSharks and all sharks should be given respect as space as wild animals and PROTECTION from wasteful killing for their important ecological role. I work daily in the water with sharks as a shark biologist and teach public and professional safety programs through @OneoceanResearch and @OneOceanDiving and through a number of our international projects which also includes #greatWhiteShark research specifically. I try hard to replace fear with scientific facts and encourage a healthy level of respect for sharks as #apexPredatorsNotMonsters but not puppies…but not monsters. They are sharks and I love and respect them for what they are. Yes I absolutely LOVE sharks and have a deep understanding and respect for their capabilities combined with well over a decade of full time experience working in-water with them. My life mission, passion, and I think purpose is to help further conservation efforts for them through research, conservation, design, and immersive and impactful programs and outreach. Please check out all the divisions of #OneOceanDiving listed below for more information and please help us to ban #sharkfinning #sharkfishing#sharksportfishing and #sharkcullingaround the world. I just found out the bill to ban the purposeful killing of sharks and rays in Hawaii will be re-introduced this year in both eh house and Senate following all the positive shark press that has come from this incredible encounter in the last few days. Mahalo Nui Loa (thank you) to all those who support efforts for shark and marine conservation.”
Check out the video below.
Featured image credit: Juan Oliphant