An aerial drone has captured amazing footage off the coast of Mexico that shows whale sharks swimming close to giant manta rays, all while human divers move among them and observe the animals.
The video was caught using a quadcopter drone, according to Shark Attack News. Filmed in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, the footage was taken from several hundred feet in the air, allowing the giant whale sharks and manta rays to fit together in the frame. As the mantas move among the large sharks in the minute long video, a group of human divers can be seen observing the animals, at times swimming directly above the sharks.
Early in the clip, six whale sharks are visible. A slow-moving, filter feeding species, whale sharks are largely harmless to humans. Divers are occasionally able to catch a ride on the surprisingly docile fish, although shark scientists and conservationists are at times critical of the practice. Growing to an average length of 32 feet, whale sharks are the largest non-cetacean animal in the world and are found in a variety of tropical waters, particularly near South America and Southeast Asia.
— DianeN56 (@DianeN56) October 13, 2014
The drone video was filmed and posted to Vimeo by Tom Gruber, whose website describes him as a “researcher, designer, and serial entrepreneur.” Gruber was the CTO and VP of Design for Siri, Apple’s intelligent assistant. His Vimeo profile contains several clips of whale sharks and manta rays, all apparently taken with an aerial drone.
Drone photography has increasingly changed the relationship between animals and the researchers who study them. Earlier this year, an aerial drone in Australia revealed a massive great white shark trailing a school of fish, dangerously close to surfers. As The Inquisitr noted at the time, despite its proximity, the surfers were unaware of the shark’s presence until observing the images.
While whale sharks are docile animals, their size occasionally poses a danger to divers. Earlier this summer, a pair of spearfishermen experienced a harrowing encounter with a whale shark in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. Unaware of the diver’s presence, the whale shark appeared behind one of them and inadvertently struck him in the torso, brushing him out of the way and nearly injuring him.
Much like NOAA’s recent program to track and observe orcas, Gruber’s drone provides a unique perspective, revealing the mantas and whale sharks in a moment that would otherwise be unattainable.
[Image: Tom Gruber via Shark Attack News]