By Pete Thomas
Incredible footage has surfaced showing a massive great white shark clipping a scuba diver in the back of the head – with its mouth slightly agape – as the diver, who is on the seafloor, looks in the opposite direction.
Dennis Dempsey, who first shared the footage to YouTube on Saturday (video since deleted), does not identify the salvage diver or reveal the South African location. Dempsey could not be reached for comment.
As viewers can see, the water is green and murky. It’ not clear if the diver is aware of the shark’s presence until the shark makes him aware with a snout-bump to the back go the head.
Drew Scerbo, scientific advisor for the White Shark Interest and White Shark Advocacy groups, told me he could see no reason to believe the footage is fake or had been manipulated, and that it looks as though the shark tore a piece of rubber on the diver's hood.
"Looks like the diver reaches up and pulls off a piece of his hood," Scerbo said. "Thank goodness for a 7-9 mm piece of neoprene, eh?"
A Facebook commenter on the Marine Conservation Science Institute page observed: “I just wonder how long that shark was checking them out without them knowing it, before coming in for a closer look. As soon as the guy was looking the other way he just dropped in like he was waiting for that, just out of sight range.”
This appears to have been a territorial or investigative strike – not a serious ambush attack – but it still could have resulted in more serious consequences.
Writes another commenter on the MCSC page: “Dude definitely had to change his shorts after that close encounter."
The video was posted to the SA Spearfishing Facebook page early Sunday, and after 11 hours it had been shared more than 20,000 times.
–Image is a video screen grab