Video has emerged of a great white shark ramming into a cage containing divers, as it pursued bait pulled over the top of the enclosure by a handler.
The short clip reveals the view from within the cage as a great white circles just feet away from the divers. A school of fish swarms near the cage, before suddenly parting as the shark turns to strike at the bait. The handler quickly pulls the lure away from the shark, though by following it, the great white barrels into the cage. The impact occurs 20 seconds into the video, as startled divers can be heard calling out. The white shark quickly turns and moves away.
Many handlers pull bait to the side of dive cages, greatly lessening the chance that a shark will strike the enclosure, yet as Shark Attack News notes, it appears in this case that the bait line was dragged over the top of the cage, enticing the great white to ram it.
Last month, a photo of a great white captured during a cage diving expedition in South Africa went viral, sparking a debate about the negative impact of the practice on white sharks. Amateur diver and photographer Amanda Brewer took the striking photo off Seal Island in Mossel Bay, using the fish-eye lens on a GoPro camera, according to National Geographic.
— Mark Gately (@GatelyMark) October 13, 2014
Observers quickly noted the shark’s proximity to the cage, raising concerns that the animal could be injured. Brewer, however, stated that handlers for White Shark Africa will not pull bait directly toward a cage.
“The person was pulling the bait around and out of the way of the cage [to Brewer’s right] so that shark wouldn’t go near the cage at all,” she asserted. “That’s one thing that we learned right off the bat, is that you never want the shark to make contact with the cage.”
Recently, footage from Mossel Bay emerged, depicting a great white sinking its teeth into a cage. Drawn close by the handler, the white shark struck at the enclosure while attempting to feed on bait, bringing it eye-to-eye with divers and leaving a steel bar wrenched out of place.
— Imperiled Oceans (@ImperiledOceans) October 28, 2014
Senior Fisheries Biologist Gregory Skomal, who studies sharks for the state of Massachusetts, stated that the possibility of sharks being injured by striking a cage is likely overblown.
“In my opinion, it’s not likely the shark would be injured by the cage,” he says, adding, “These are remarkably tough animals.”
A much greater question, Skomal noted, is whether the practice of using dive cages could cause sharks to associate human beings with food, doing far more damage to great whites over the long term.
[Image: Jeremy Stewart via Shark Attack News]