Great White Shark Swims Under Kayak Off Santa Cruz Beach

A kayaker managed to get up close and personal with a great white shark off a Santa Cruz beach on Tuesday, snapping photos of the predatory fish as it swam directly beneath him.

Marine biologist Giancarlo Thomae, who works as a specialist for a whale watching business, had set out in his kayak with the specific intention of observing the sharks, according to SF Gate. The great whites have recently been recorded around a wrecked hull known as the “cement ship,” and Thomae’s efforts quickly paid off.

“I was just off the cement ship when this eight-foot great white shark swam right under my kayak,” he noted.

Thomae was also able to photograph at least four other young white sharks as they swam past Seacliff State Beach in Aptos on Monterey Bay. His photos show beachgoers reacting with surprise as the white sharks’ fins break the surface, despite the animals’ relatively small size. After beaching his kayak, Thomae took to the air with Specialized Helicopters from Watsonville, and was able to photograph 14 of the white sharks as they swam around the cement ship. Last week, he did the same, sighting at least one great white that measured 18-feet-long, as the Inquisitr previously noted.

The majority of the sharks in the region measure between eight and 12-feet-long, making them immature juveniles. Their rookery has likely been displaced by changing water temperatures, as Sean Van Sommeran of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation pointed out.

“It’s the same process of dynamics and water currents that has driven sea lions north,” he observed. “In Monterey Bay, we’ve seen triggerfish, needlefish (species common off Mexico). The currents are really warm.”

Van Sommeran also asserted that the white sharks off Aptos have established their rookery further north than is usually expected. He noted that it is not only significant that they are white sharks, but also that they represent a large grouping of pups, as CBS San Francisco points out.

Though Thomae had originally planned to set out on his trip Tuesday morning, none of the white sharks were in the area, forcing him to postpone. They arrived inshore in early afternoon, and after Thomae launched, he saw one shark pass directly below his kayak, hovering there for a few minutes.

“These magnificent and feared animals can swim within 50 feet of shore and only a few people knew about it,” he observed.

Rather than feeling fear in the presence of the great whites, Thomae expressed his respect for the sharks, saying he treasures the events of the last week.

[Image: Giancarlo Thomae via SF Gate]