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Drone Video Captures Massive Great White Shark Swimming Right Below Unaware Surfer

Sometimes it's better not to know.

By Cassidy Ward

From Jaws to Sharknado and half a hundred other movies, sharks are often painted as villains. Far from the complex creatures they really are, stories like to frame sharks as mindless killers, patrolling summertime beaches in search of their next person-shaped snack.

RELATED: Shark Besties? Great White Sharks Sometimes Travel in Pairs, So Look Out

That unflattering view of sharks isn’t helped by the outsized attention paid to the few times they do cause injury or death. Any time there is an attack on a person it makes headlines all over the world. Indeed, global shark attacks are tracked and monitored every year and there’s no real indication that they are any more frequent today than they’ve ever been. But we are getting better at knowing when they are around and that can be a little spooky.

Unaware Surfer Shark Encounter in San Diego, California

A surfer in San Diego, California had a close encounter with a mid-sized Great White earlier this week. The uneventful run-in was caught on camera by photographer Scott Fairchild and posted to Instagram.

Fairchild captioned the post, “Great White youngster hunting rays in a few feet of water. As usual, when a wave comes through they’ll turn back out. And in this case, into a surfer. Surer never did see it.” And that seems to be a more common occurrence than we previously realized. In fact, earlier this summer a separate pair of surfers bumped into a Great White in the water. They didn’t notice until the animal was about a meter away. Fortunately, the shark didn’t seem all that interested and there were no injuries.

This latest footage is just another piece of evidence in the growing case for chill sharks. Back in June, researchers from California State University, Long Beach published a study monitoring interactions between people and white sharks over a two year period.

They focused on two hot spots in Santa Barbara County and San Diego where they found young white sharks like the one in the above video swimming near people almost constantly. They also used drones to monitor the water from above and in those hotspots sharks and people were sharing the same space 97 percent of the time. Moreover, researchers found that juvenile sharks like to hang out near wave breaks which are, obviously, also popular spots for surfers.

Hearing that Great Whites frequent our surfing spots might feel a little frightening but perhaps the study’s most important finding was that there were no attacks reported in those spots during the study period. We talk a lot about when sharks bite, but we’re blissfully unaware of the hundreds or thousands of times, every day, that they don’t.

Like the surfer in the above video, most of the time we don’t even realize they’re there.

They do make good movie monsters though, catch Shark Lake and a bunch of other fish-themed frights, streaming on Peacock!

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