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Drone Footage Shows Massive Great White Shark Approach Unaware Surfers

Sometimes it's better not to know.

By Cassidy Ward

In the 1970s, author Peter Benchley tapped into an underexplored area of humanity’s capacity for fear in his blockbuster novel, Jaws. The story so fully captured the public imagination that when Steven Spielberg adapted the novel for the screen the following year, it invented the summer blockbuster.

On screen, the residents of Amity Island come face to face with a ravenous monster from the deep. In reality, humans have run ins with great white sharks every single day and it’s one of the least horrifying things we do, because we usually have no idea. Recently, however, a drone operator got a front row seat to an encounter between surfers, dolphins, and a massive shark.

Drone Provides Birds’ Eye View of Shark Encounter

Photographer and videographer Sharyn Hodges was flying a drone over coastal waters, in search of the natural beauty the ocean offers. According to the caption in her Instagram post, Hodges caught sight of a small pod of dolphins and started following them. When they increased their speed and started moving toward another small pod, Hodges pulled up to get a wider view of the action and stumbled on a toothy interloper.

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On screen, a dark sharky shadow slowly patrols the water. To the left, a small pod of dolphins just doing dolphin stuff; on the right, a pair of surfers totally unaware they’re within chomping distance of Jaws herself. The shark is making a direct path toward one of the surfers who seems totally nonplussed, their feet dangling casually in the water like worms on a hook. When the shark gets to within about a meter of one of the surfers, they pull their feet out of the water and start paddling away, apparently having recognized the danger.

The shark then turns away and the dolphins approach, swimming over and under it, almost as if they’re keeping tabs on the situation in case they need to intervene. For her part, Hodges did the only thing she could do, she kept filming. With no time to do anything and no way to alert anyone, she just watched as the shark, dolphins, and surfers merged upon one another.

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It must have been an anxiety-ridden affair, even if the majority of that anxiety is unwarranted. Peaceful interactions between people and great white sharks are not at all uncommon and actually make up the vast majority of interactions. A recent study using drones over shark territory in California found that people were in close proximity with white sharks almost all of the time.

Researchers observed sharks and people within 50 meters of one another during roughly 97% of their outings, over the course of two years, and none of those resulted in attacks. Most of the time, people didn’t even know they were there. If you’re looking for truly spooky sharks, you’ll have to look for them on screen.

Catch the entire Jaws franchise, available from Universal Pictures.