New footage has been released of an enormous great white shark named Deep Blue, one of the largest ever caught on video.
The beast was filmed in 2014 approaching a shark cage near Guadalupe Island, off Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. In the video, researcher Mauricio Hoyos Padilla exits the safety of the cage and touches the shark, appearing to give it a high-five. Hoyos Padilla posted the video on his public Facebook page on Tuesday, writing that it’s the biggest white shark he’s ever seen.
It appears that the video was taken late last year during the making of a Discovery Channel documentary in which the scientist appeared. In the TV show, researchers identify Deep Blue as a then-pregnant female shark that approached 22 feet in length, making her one of the larger recorded great whites. These fish average about 15 feet in length.
The scientists tagged Deep Blue to track her whereabouts. She led them to a colony of elephant seals, a typical food source. Great whites often frequent Guadalupe Island for its plentiful population of seals. One study found that a pregnant shark gave birth nearby, off Baja California, before returning to Guadalupe Island to mate. Deep Blue is also recognizable by a series of nasty scars on her back, likely from bites that occurred during shark sex.
“In this particular video it looks like the diver just can't resist the temptation to reach out and touch the shark, but there are instances when diving with sharks that you must reach out and guide the shark away from you,” says shark researcher Michael Domeier, president of the Marine Conservation Science Institute in Waikoloa, Hawaii. “That said, people should avoid deliberately putting themselves into a situation where they might have to fend off a white shark with their hands” since the animals are dangerous, he adds.
Tobey Curtis, with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, says that in this case the researcher appears to touch the animal to try "to deflect the shark from bumping into the cage or getting entangled in the chains above the cage."