Divers in Hawaii found themselves in a very mellow, real-life version of The Meg this week. While monitoring a rotting sperm whale carcass off the shore of Oahu, the divers encountered a huge great white shark that had come for a bite and to relieve an itch, apparently. Ocean Ramsey, a shark and marine biologist, as well as the diver who came face-to-face with the 20-foot-long, eight-foot-wide, possibly pregnant female shark, said, “She was just this beautiful gentle giant wanting to use our boat as a scratching post… she stayed with us pretty much throughout the day.”
It’s rare for great whites to appear in Hawaii’s waters, as it’s generally too warm. Ramsey thinks that this shark was attracted to this part of the world by hunger and the need for extra nutrients during pregnancy. The beautiful animal is thought to be at least 50 years old and weigh about 2.5 tonnes. With such measurements, the shark is believed to be the famous Deep Blue — the largest white shark ever recorded. Ramsey previously swam with the shark on a research trip to Guadalupe Island in Mexico.
Contrary to popular belief, great whites do not consistently attack people. They usually only bite when they are curious or mistake people for their natural prey. “Big pregnant females are actually the safest ones to be with,” said Ramsey, “because they’ve seen it all, including us. That’s why I kind of call her, like, a grandma shark.”
Despite the gentleness of the encounter between Ramsey and the majestic creature, we do not encourage people to seel out sharks to swim with, especially around a feeding spot.
According to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, the decomposing whale carcass had drifted about eight miles south of Pearl Harbor and was regularly attracting tiger sharks. Given the increased shark presence in the area, swimmers are being advised to stay out of the water around the dead whale.