Drone footage recently captured an extremely close encounter between a 10-foot-long great white shark and spear fisherman swimming near his boat. And in doing so, the drone operator helped to warn the man of the impending danger, while later outlining the importance of shark awareness.
The harrowing, 10-minute-long video was captured by Southern California-based filmmaker and professional photographer Carlos Gauna, a FAA certified drone pilot whose work has been featured in National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. The footage starts off innocuous enough, as he was filming territorial behavior between two sharks in the same feeding ground.
As the smaller of the two sharks headed for shallow waters, he followed with the drone when suddenly it began approaching a spear fisherman floating in the water. With the shark headed in the fisherman's direction, Gauna attempted to get his attention with the drone to warn him of the visitor, to no avail. The shark then became distracted and headed towards the fisherman's nearby boat with a few crew members onboard. Although they waved at the drone, they also did not seem to notice the approaching shark.
Then, something totally expected happened, when one of the fisherman jumped from the boat into the water, with the shark still precariously nearby.
Finally, after frantically moving the drone up and down to get the man's attention, the last remaining fisherman onboard noticed the shark and quickly helped his friend out of the water with the apex predator within 10 feet away. "Based on the reaction of the fisherman after, it's safe to say he was thankful," the drone operator noted, as the two men waves their arms in his direction.
After explaining that the interaction would have played out whether his drone was there or not—and not to mention, that these incidents occur much more frequently than most humans realize—Gauna wondered what had attracted the shark to the boat in the first place.
As it turns out, the fishermen had their day's catch hanging right from the side of the boat, near where the fisherman had been swimming. As such, the shark was merely following its instinct by picking up on the stress signals the fish were sending out.
But more importantly, he says, the incident underscores the need to acknowledge situational awareness, and the importance of understanding what attracts sharks. "In nearly all negative shark encounters, factors like this are what should be considered prior to the vilification of the sharks," Gauna narrated. "Swimming next to your day's catch is never advisable."
"While attacks do happen, many happen due to factors that can combine to create a bad situation that could have easily been avoided in the first place," he added.
You can watch the video below, courteous of Gauna's YouTube channel, The Malibu Artist: