The great white shark. Of all the fish in the world’s oceans, this animal instills fear or respect, or both in the minds of people. Ask virtually any surfer or diver what they fear the most about going into the ocean and the top answer is most likely the great white shark.
Read More on the Great White Shark
Ever since Jaws came out into the theaters in the 1970s spreading half truths and outright lies about this animal, people still tend to be afraid. While the fear is still there in some, the awe and the science has moved on.
The Discovery Channel has prepared a new educational video on the predatory behavior of the great white shark filmed at Guadalupe Island in Mexico. What is unique about the money shot portion of the video is the use of what the team from the Oceanographic Systems Lab at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, calls the REMUS SharkCam.
Great white shark footage captured with a GoPro. Photo by Oceanographic Systems Lab at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
The device, called the REMUS-100 SharkCam, (Remote Environmental Monitoring Unit Shark cam) is made of six GoPro video cameras mounted to what looks like a mini submarine or torpedo. The SharkCam is lowered into the water when the sharks are present and captures video from six different angles. Not only did the cameras capture some pretty insane footage of the sharks attacking the Remus-100, the footage provided some new knowledge in how the great white shark interacts and attacks its prey.
Previously, when a great white shark attacked a human, which is not considered a prey item, in many documented cases, the shark attacks and then promptly releases the human. Scientists speculate that the shark knows that what it attacked was not a food source, with some scientists going so far as to say that the shark can detect fat content with its teeth and jaws. When humans are attacked, in many cases, the shark realizes that the human is not food and promptly spits it out. That is why there aren’t a whole lot of documented cases where the human is devoured by the shark. With the REMUS Cam footage, the shark takes three to four exploratory bites before realizing that the seven foot device is not food. So imagine, three to four exploratory bites on a human. One bite is usually catastrophic for a human.
The REMUS SharkCam is a wonder of technology in itself. Outfitted with the GoPro cameras, the device provides for a 360 degree view of its surroundings and is outfitted with state of the art navigational and scientific instruments that enable it to not only capture great white shark footage, but also basking sharks and other animals. The device can locate, track and film tagged marine animals up to 330 feet, via a signal from a transponder beacon attached to the animal. Once it locates the animal, the device holds steady in a predetermined stand off position and begins recording, transmitting data up to scientists on the research boat every 10 to 20 seconds. The device is fully controllable by the scientists as well.
The full documentary, “Jaws Strikes Back,” will air on the Discovery Channel, August 11, 2014 at 9:00 p.m. EDT.
John B. Virata has been keeping fish since he was 10 years old. He currently keeps an 80 gallon cichlid tank, a 20 gallon freshwater community tank and a 29 gallon BioCube with a Percula clown, a huge blue green chromis, and a firefish all in his kitchen, and a 55 gallon FOWLR tank with a pair of Ocellaris clowns, two blue green chromis, a six line wrasse, a peppermint shrimp, assorted algae and a few aiptasia anemones in his living room. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata