Scientists could not believe their eyes when a 4 metre monster great white lunged out of the water to take a bite at a smaller shark, in a cannibal attack.
Researchers from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s Shark Survey were initially surprised when they caught an immature 2.6m male white shark on Thursday last week.
Little did they know they would spot a 4m monster the following day, chasing a smaller blacktip shark.
Before last week, the group had only caught five great white sharks in 45 years. So when they caught the smaller of the pair off the coast of Sandbridge, Virginia, in the US, it was a surprise.
VIMS graduate student Kaitlyn O’Brien said: “I didn’t believe him at first and I had to lean over the rail to see it myself”.
But a day later, on Friday June 8, the researchers were met with a second treat when a 4m mature great white popped up to take a bite at a smaller fish they had just caught.
The fishing crew snapped the incredible picture of the third shark chasing a smaller 1.2m shark which had become caught in ropes during the Shark Survey, and taking a bite at it.
The larger shark made a mess of the lines and got away with the smaller shark.
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“When the [blacktip] came up, we noticed that lines were all tangled,” Ms O’Brien said.
“Keith [marine engineer Keith Mayer] yelled ‘Something big down there’s messing it up,’ and when we saw the head, it was huge compared to the first [great white].
“We were all kind of in shock – it was once in a lifetime.”
A shark that size likely weighs around 590kg, according to the researchers.
Scientists attribute the rare sightings to unusually cool waters.
The VIMS Shark Survey, which begun in 1973, now stands as the one of the longest-running studies of shark populations in the world.