Filmmaker stares down great white shark while shooting off WA coast

A West Australian filmmaker has come eyeball-to-eyeball with a great white shark, just 30 minutes into filming a documentary on marine conservation.

Kalgoorlie-based man Ash Gibb posted a three minute video of the encounter to his YouTube channel, and told 7 News Online it was "the most intense moment of my life".

Shooting in Lucky Bay, about 60 kilometres east of Esperance, Mr Gibb said the shark encounter was the "money shot" for his fledgling film, and he had somehow managed to achieve it within an hour of starting the project.

Unsure of how exactly one should respond to a great white shark, Mr Gibb said he tried to remain still, and keep filming, in the hope that if it did attack, perhaps it would only strike the camera.

"I just stared straight into its eyes and pointed the camera," he said.

Ash Gibb was armed with only a snorkel when he dived into the fish-infested waters in WA. Photo: Side Tracked TV Multimedia Productions
Ash Gibb was armed with only a snorkel when he dived into the fish-infested waters in WA. Photo: Side Tracked TV Multimedia Productions

"It felt that [the shark] was very calm and it didn't feel under threat so I just responded in what I felt was the most appropriate way."

Despite the four to five-metre long predator's calm demeanor, the 29-year-old photographer said the experience was far more intense than previous projects, several of which involved jumping out of planes.

"I've jumped out of planes, I've shot tandem skydiving but nothing got the adrenaline pumping like this."

Mr Gibb wanted to show people that sharks
Mr Gibb wanted to show people that sharks

Five metres under water and armed with only a snorkel, Mr Gibb said he was he wasn't aware of the predator until he felt a "massive thump from behind".

For two minutes, the shark circled around Mr Gibb multiple times and swam within centimetres of him before jerking its head back in the other direction.

At one point the great white fronted the diver and swam toward him head-on.

The shark circled around Mr Gibb multiple times during the encounter. Photo: Side Tracked TV Multimedia Productions
The shark circled around Mr Gibb multiple times during the encounter. Photo: Side Tracked TV Multimedia Productions

He estimated the shark was four to five metres in length and said he felt detached from the moment due to disbelief.

"I told everyone I was going to see a great white shark but I didn't really expect it to happen," Mr Gibb said.

The shark was estimated to be four to five metres in length. Photo: Side Tracked TV Multimedia Productions
The shark was estimated to be four to five metres in length. Photo: Side Tracked TV Multimedia Productions

"Then I thought, oh my god, I've done it, and now that it's actually happening I have to deal with the situation in front of me."

While many would fear a face to face meeting with one of the world's most notorious predators, Mr Gibb, who grew up surfing on Australia's east coast, said it had only buoyed his interest in the marine giants.

He now plans to take a scuba diving course in the hope of encountering more shark species, and hopes to release a documentary next year exploring how people's perception of animals like sharks affects the public and the government's interactions with them.

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