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Watch Leaping, Flipping Shark Photobomb Surfer Riding the Waves

Foil surfer photobomed by acrobatic shark, caught on camera. Get that shark in the Olympics!

By Cassidy Ward

Steven Spielberg’s Jaws succeeded in creating one of the most enduring movie monsters of all time. Nearly 50 years after its release, Jaws still holds an incredible amount of cultural sway, but we’re learning that we may have misjudged the Great White and every other shark besides.

This summer has been absolutely swimming with shark encounters, most of which have been peaceful. But this latest sighting might be the first time we’ve ever seen a foil surfer and a shark competing for who can pull off the best trick.

Sharks Are Everywhere and You Almost Never Notice Them

A great white shark bares its teeth with a wide open mouth.

Prior to the release of Jaws, people hardly thought about sharks at all, and now you can’t dip your toe in the water without keeping an eye out for fins. The thing is most of that anxiety about our toothy fish friends is an invented narrative collectively constructed by all of us. That narrative has been especially reinforced this summer as beachgoers captured one shark encounter after another on camera. While shark sightings seem to be on the rise, shark attacks remain more or less static when compared to recent years.

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

Earlier this year, scientists from Cal State’s Shark Lab completed and published a two-year long study of juvenile Great Whites along the California coast. They found two beaches, one in central San Diego and the other in southern Santa Barbara, which juvenile white sharks are particularly fond of. Those are also popular spots for swimmers and surfers, putting people in close proximity with sharks every year when they gather near the coast to hunt.

They used drones to patrol coastal hot spots and figure out the frequency of close encounters. Shockingly, researchers found that people were in close proximity to sharks 97% of the time. That’s not to say that every single swimmer or surfer had a shark accompanying them, but that almost every single time they looked, they found at least one shark cruising alongside a person. Importantly, there were no attacks reported in those areas during the two-year study period. That feels pretty conclusive. Two years of nearly constant contact and no attacks. Sharks aren’t out there looking for people to attack; we just talk a lot, and loudly, about the few attacks that occur.

Shark Sightings are Likely to Continue Increasing

Already this year we’ve seen a number of incredible shark encounters caught on camera, largely due to the use of uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly called drones. Recently, Adam Bennetts was foil surfing and filmed his run with a UAV when a shark photobombed him with a trick of its own, as you can see in his post above.

Foil boards work sort of like an aircraft underwater. The board is attached to a rod descending into the water which is itself attached to a pair of submarine wings. As long as you have forward momentum, the wings push the water down and the rider up, much the same as airplane wings lift riders into the air.

RELATED: Shark Witchcraft? Female Sharks Gather Each Year Beneath the Full Moon

In the video, Bennett cruises smoothly back and forth, pulling out ahead of the wave before turning back toward the curl. It’s during one of these turns that a medium-sized shark leaps from the water behind him. The shark pulls off what appears to be a complete 1080 (suck it, Tony Hawk!), almost as if to remind Bennetts he is not the coolest thing in the water.

If you’re looking for shark attacks, you’ve got a better shot at the movies. Catch Jaws, available from Universal Pictures.