A pair of cage divers in South Africa received the scare of a lifetime earlier this week, when a great white shark attacked their enclosure, biting into the bars and bending one of the buoys attached to its side.
Hillary Rae Petroski was able to film the close encounter with the shark using a GoPro while she was diving in Mossel Bay, South Africa, according to the Telegraph. Apologizing for the video’s shakiness and her friend’s (understandable) screaming in the background, Petroski described the great white interaction as “up close and personal.”
As the clip begins, the camera captures the great white moving to bite a piece of bait thrown by a handler. Within seconds, however, the shark’s attention moves from the bait to the cage, as it attempts to wedge its snout between the bars. Just a moment later, the shark latches on to the enclosure’s corner with its powerful jaws as Petroski’s friend screams in the background.
— The Independent (@Independent) July 2, 2015
For an extended moment, the white shark tests the cage’s bars with its teeth, likely attempting to determine what it is. Sharks regularly use their teeth to examine objects, in an effort to determine whether they are prey, and it is thought that many of the bites inflicted by great whites are exploratory in nature (though that will likely provide little comfort to attack victims). By the end of the clip, the shark releases the cage, turning to swim away from the divers.
While it is considered one of the best ways to observe a white shark close up, cage diving is not without its detractors, as Newsweek points out. According to the Shark Trust, the practice is considered extremely contentious, with some observers asserting that it is unethical at best to lure a shark with bait.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 24, 2015
“It is argued that not only does shark feeding alter the natural behavior of wild animals, affecting the prey capture and consumption of animals, but potentially also creates the dangerous association that humans equate to getting fed,” the trust noted.
Earlier this year, cage diving operators in New Zealand found themselves in the middle of a contentious debate focused on exactly those issues. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the residents of Stewart Island, particularly paua divers, alleged that the behavior of a resident population of great whites had changed, and that the sharks were approaching divers more frequently, likely equating them with the cage divers’ bait.
[Image: Hillary Rae Petroski/ YouTube]