A lucky seal in South Africa narrowly avoided the razor-sharp jaws of a great white shark as it burst from the ocean, tossing the prey animal through the air.
According to the Daily Mail, the stunning interaction was captured in a series of images by underwater photographer Sergio Riccardo, just off Seal Island, a prime feeding ground for great whites.
“The boat began to follow the seals back to Seal Island where there are around 70,000 seals,” he said. “During this process the seals are often the subject of attacks by great white sharks.”
As Riccardo snapped away, a white shark burst from below the surface, attempting to prey on one of the animals. The shark missed, however, and the seal was thrown into the air as it bounced off the tip of the great white’s nose. As it fell back into the sea, the shark snapped its jaws shut, missing the spinning seal by the narrowest of margins.
“They launch themselves from underneath the seal, knocking it above the surface and snapping the mammal in their mouths. The speed with which the sharks attack brings them to jump completely out of the water. I was glad to see the seal escape on this occasion.”
This style of attack causes the shark to breach the surface, often hurling its entire body out of the ocean in a stunning display. As the Inquisitr has previously noted, the behavior is common off the South African coastline, but has also been recorded in great white populations in other parts of the world, including off the coast of Massachusetts.
Seal Island is a small outcropping of granite rock that sits three and a half miles off False Bay, near Cape Town. Home to around 65,000 seals and a number of sea birds, it is one of the world’s most popular spots to observe great whites, which are drawn to the region by the density of prey.
The area where white sharks circle the island is known as the “Ring of Death” to locals. Cage divers sometimes frequent the site as well, hoping to swim with the great whites. As the Guardian notes, the practice has ignited controversy over whether it poses risks for both divers and great white sharks.
[Images: Sergio Riccardo via the Daily Mail]