A great white shark launching itself into the air is not something you see everyday, but that’s exactly what happens in a stunning YouTube video taken in Mossel Bay, South Africa, a few weeks ago.
The footage, which was captured by Remo Sabatini on July 6, shows one of these majestic predators launching itself completely out of the water, flicking its tail a few times, then doing a fantastic bellyflop.
The show Shark Minutes put together their own video, complete with slow motion and epic, James Bond-style music.
We don’t know exactly why the shark in the video pulled this stunt, but the Shark Minutes video offers a few theories. Great whites tend to attack their prey from below, so perhaps the shark was trying to nab some dinner.
Another possibility is that the shark was startled or vulnerable. It could also have been trying to remove parasites, or making some sort of social display.
Or perhaps, it was just trying to get a better look around.
Neil Hammerschlag, a shark biologist at the University of Miami, has studied the hunting behaviour of great whites in South Africa’s Seal Island. The sharks tend to hunt the young Cape fur seals.
Between 1997 and 2003, Hammerschlag and his team documented more than 2,000 white sharks attacks on the seals. The most common type of attack involved the shark leaping partially or completely out of the water with their head sticking straight up, like in the video. The next most common attack styles involved the shark lunging horizontally toward a seal on the surface, or snapping its jaws to the side to catch one fleeing.
You can watch the original video here: