Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Video: Diver's in South Africa Have Close Encounter with Agitated Tiger Shark

Diver reaches out to touch agitated tiger shark
A diver filmed a rather eye opening close encounter with a large tiger shark off Protea Banks reef which is located about 7km off the coast of South Africa near Margate.

The video starts with the tiger shark already close at hand.  Almost immediately, you can see that the shark appears to be agitated when it snaps its jaws at the 1 second mark. As the shark continues swimming, you can see that its pectoral fins are slanted down and the shark's movements seem just a bit rigid.

As the shark passes a diver at the 8 second mark, the diver reaches out to touch the shark but appears to not make connection.  With any shark in an aggressive state, a move such as this could easily be an open invite for trouble.

Tiger shark approaches diver and snaps its jaws
The shark then makes a turn and heads directly towards the person filming.  In a rather stunning move, as the shark is within just a few feet of the videographer, it again snaps its jaws which is easily audible at the 14 second mark.

Fortunately for everyone present, the shark then turns and swims off into the dark sea and out of sight. We should note that the shark has an injury on its left side.  At first we thought it might be from a cookiecutter shark bite but upon closer look, it appears to be more of a deep penetrating hole.

The video was posted today on Youtube by Chris vd Merwe and is 40 seconds in length.
Photo is screenshot from video.


Update: We asked the folks at Shark Diver Magazine to review the video and render their analysis.  We heard back from Eli Martinez who is the Editor at SDM and is often referred to as the shark whisperer. Here are his comments from FB:

"BIG shark. The shark was agitated for sure. It looks like the shark came in to investigate the divers, popping her jaw, showing her dominance and size. She was not a super confident shark because she did not try to bump. But confident enough to come in to get a closer look. I think if they would of touched her she would of taken off faster. She was not comfortable and the second jaw pop was her trying to reinforce her dominance over them as she made her close pass, letting them know she was a shark that they better not mess with her. This is just my opinion of course. That is a very deep hole...wonder what did that? - Elim