A team of crazy divers jumped in the water with the world’s biggest great white shark last week and lived to tell the tale.
To be fair to the shark, she was already too full of whale blubber to even think about eating one of the pesky human paparazzi. But she probably thought about it.
Her name is Deep Blue, and she’s believed to be over 50 years old. She was spotted off the coast of Oahu after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tugged a dead sperm whale carcass out to sea after it had washed ashore the week prior. Nobody wants a dead whale carcass ruining Hawaii’s pristine beaches, after all.
But a dead whale proved to be a unique opportunity for researchers. After taking the sperm whale about 15 miles from the coast, Deep Blue showed up in all her majestic glory. Measuring 21 feet from tail to snout, she’s easily the bigger than the average adult white shark (which usually top out at around 15-16 feet).
She was also quite a bit wider than the average great white, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
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I waited quietly, patiently, observing as she swam up to the dead sperm whale carcass and then slowly to me passing close enough I gently put my hand out to maintain a small space so her girth could pass. I know some people criticize touch but what some don’t realize is that sometimes sharks seek touch, she swam away escorted by two rough-toothed dolphins who danced around her over to one of my @oneoceandiving shark research vessels and proceeded to use it as a scratching post, passing up feeding for another need. I wish more people would have a connection with sharks and the natural world, because then they would understand that it’s not petting sharks or pushing them off to maintain a respectable space that is hurting sharks (because trust me if she didn’t like being pet she can handle and communicate 🦈) it’s the wasteful and cruel practice of grabbing and catching sharks to cut off their fins (which slowly kills them) for #sharkfinsoup in a process called #sharkfinning or the wasteful #sharkfishing or #sharksportfishing If it bothers you that I touched the shark please click on one of the hashtags above and leave them a negative comment first 😉 #HelpSaveSharks #SpreadAwareness #FinBanNow #bansharkfinning #Sharkfin Vid shot on my @gopro #gopro3000 #goproforacause out with @oneoceandiving with @juansharks ❤️ @mermaid_kayleigh 💙 @camgrantphotography ❤️ @forrest.in.focus 💙 @oneoceanresearch @oneoceanglobal @waterinspired @oneoceansharks @oneoceanhawaii @oneoceaneducation #savetheocean #sharktouch #touchingsharks #oneoceanteam #discoversharks #discoverocean #greatwhitesharkinhawaii #freedivingwithsharks #whitesharkhawaii #deadwhalehawaii #dolphinsandsharks #🤙🏽 #Hawaii #sharka 🤙🏽🦈
The team of researchers was initially hoping to study tiger sharks when Deep Blue arrived. Ocean Ramsey, a researcher on the journey, jumped at the chance to get up close and personal with Blue.
“We saw a few tigers and then she came up and all the other sharks split, and she started brushing up against the boat,” Ramsey told the Honolulu Star Advertiser. “She was just this big beautiful gentle giant wanting to use our boat as a scratching post. We went out at sunrise, and she stayed with us pretty much throughout the day.”
Ramsey and her team managed to get a number of spectacular photos (which she shared on Instagram) as well as some video footage of the massive beast as she swam lazily in the water accompanied by a pair of rough-toothed dolphins. Dolphins usually avoid great whites since they tend to eat dolphins, but Deep Blue has become so large that she probably doesn’t get much of her nutrition from hunting anymore, instead opting for the easy and calorie-rich diet of previously expired whale.
“We’re gonna need a bigger boat” 🦈 Video of Deep Blue, biggest great white in the world. She is hapai, about 20 feet, feeding on the dead whale off Oahu’s south shore. Vid credit @oneoceandiving @mermaid_Kayleigh @OceanRamsey and @Juansharks more: https://t.co/QNywDQYrXE pic.twitter.com/vWriPdrtML— Lynn Kawano (@LynnKawano) January 16, 2019
And due to her immense girth, Ramsey thinks she might be pregnant. “She looks like she may be pregnant: She’s shockingly wide,” she said.