Video Shows Massive Shark Encircling Two Paddle Boarders and Dividing Them in Preparation of Attack

The shark showed no fear. 

Dramatic footage shows a shark displaying unusual behavior by approaching two paddle boarders head on, putting itself in a vulnerable position by doing so. San Diego native Scott Fairchild took drone footage of the incident, which shows the great white circling near—and getting in between—the two humans. The paddle boarders stay in place as the huge shark noses around, separating them. Here's what Fairchild thinks was happening, and why the shark was being so bold.

1
Bold Behavior

scott_fairchild/Instagram

Fairchild's footage shows the shark deliberately swimming close to the paddle-boarders, and very unusually, putting itself in a position that could be considered dangerous. "Sometimes the White Sharks are confidently curious," Fairchild captions the video. "Usually self-preservation always comes first. This is more rare, intentionally approaching head on, and if you notice, pausing when there is a perfect triangle of separation. Then choosing to put itself in the middle, between two people. As always though, its spatial awareness is on-point, as it perfectly splits the difference." Keep reading to learn more and see the video.

2
Welcome To Shark Park

scott_fairchild/Instagram

Drone footage has caught sharks swimming right underneath swimmers in the water of a Santa Cruz County beach. Soquel Cove, known unofficially by researchers as "Shark Park," is experiencing an influx of juvenile great white sharks, the first time they have been tagged north of Santa Barbara. "It's good to get out and get tags in animals to figure out: Why are they here? What are they doing while they're here?" says Chris Lowe, professor of marine biology and director of the shark lab at Cal State Long Beach. "How close do they get to people, and do they pose a risk?"

3
Otter Carnage

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While the Soquel Cove sharks have not attacked swimmers, there have been a rash of otter attacks. "During the time these sharks started coming up here, we saw an increase in mortality of sea otters from shark bites," says John O'Sullivan, director of collections at Monterey Bay Aquarium. "We have two protected species, one being detrimental to the other one, and it's a challenge to figure out."

4
Teeth Changing

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According to experts, the sharks are targeting otters as they move from eating fish to hunting bigger prey. "In fact, their teeth are changing from being thin and sharp to being triangular and serrated," says O'Sullivan. "They're going through a learning curve of how to target their prey item, which isn't sea otters."

5
Mistaken Identity

Under the waves a diver with great white sharks.
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Despite their fearsome appearance, great white sharks don't hunt humans. Experts believe when a shark attack does happen, it's usually a case of mistaken identity—which is why humans are rarely eaten in an attack. "Then once they bite that individual, they realize it's not what they thought," says Lowe. "And that's why people aren't consumed — that's why flesh isn't removed. They're bitten, and then they're left alone." 

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Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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