Watch Biologists Measure The G-Force Of A Great White Shark's Strike

Shark

Photo: Discovery Channel

Is a Great White shark’s strike strong enough to kill a seal on impact?Biologists attempt to find out by measuring the power of a shark attack as part of the Discovery Channel’s “Air Jaws Apocalypse” episode.  

To determine whether a Great White shark's flying attack is powerful enough to kill a seal on impact, researchers head to Seal Island in South Africa.

Nobody knows what a seal can withstand, but the team imagines that the force of a shark's strike from a depth of 100 feet is comparable to a human being hit by a car.

The force of acceleration on a body is known as g-force and is measured in g's.

For example, on takeoff a pilot may experience up to 4g's, meaning they experience a force four times the force of gravity at Earth's surface. Another way of expressing this is that their body becomes four times heavier.

The magnitude, duration and direction of a g-force effects how much g-force a body can tolerate. A sudden impact of 50 g's is almost always fatal to humans. A sustained force, anything lasting for more than few seconds, is more deadly. A sustained g-force of about 15 g's can kill.

Back on the water, researchers use a decoy to conduct their test.

A g-force meter is placed inside the decoy. The data logger will measure the sudden acceleration of the decoy in the attack.

The decoy is launched and pulled behind a boat.

A 3,000-pound shark hits the decoy at nearly 25 mph.

It's a spectacular sight.

Back at the harbor, researchers unload information from the the data logger.

The results are impressive.

At a g-force this high, researchers think a seal would experience tunnel vision, blackout, unconsciousness or even death.

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