A group of divers in South Africa were startled when a great white shark slammed into their cage, ramming the enclosure and leaving the bars bent as it retreated into the sea.
The divers had entered Mossel Bay in order to get an up-close view of the sharks, a practice that regularly attracts tourists to the area. As Shark Attack News notes, professional bait handlers are trained to lure the great whites near the divers, while keeping the sharks from making contact with the enclosures. Some handlers, however, will lure sharks too close, leading to incidents like the one filmed by Patrick Andersson.
The video depicts a large great white that was seemingly lured directly toward the cage by the bait handler. The shark slams into the cage at full speed, as the divers within can be heard voicing their astonishment. The shark recoils after a moment, freeing itself from the cage and leaving several of the bars twisted out of place. As it sinks beneath the waves, the great white thrashes in the water, its massive tail breaking the surface next to the cage.
Another video posted by Andersson shows a great white engaged in a furious tug-of-war with a bait handler, as it is drawn close to another cage full of divers. The shark slams into the side of the enclosure, though it appears to do no damage, engrossed in its attempt to take the bait.
A popular tourist attraction in South Africa, as well as several other unique spots worldwide, cage diving is not without its critics. Earlier this year, a photo of a great white from Mossel Bay, captured by a cage diver, went viral on the internet. As the Inquisitr noted, the photo appeared to show the bait handler luring the shark directly toward the cage, leading to concerns that the animals could be harmed by striking the enclosures.
Speaking with National Geographic, Dr. Greg Skomal, a senior fisheries biologist who studies great whites for the state of Massachusetts, expressed skepticism that cage diving could be overly harmful to white sharks. He noted that South Africa requires cage diving companies to obtain permits and follow a strict set of safety guidelines.
“In my opinion, it’s not likely the shark would be injured by the cage,” he said.
“These are remarkably tough animals. I have seen them heavily scarred up by each other, with parts having been bitten off, and they have an amazing capacity to heal.”
A more important question, Skomal observes, is whether cage diving will teach the sharks to associate human beings with food, doing long term damage to the great whites.
[Image: Patrick Andersson via Shark Attack News]