A shark’s-eye view! Footage captured on the back of a Great White reveals for the first time how the giant predator stalks seals through kelp
- The enormous fish has previously never been seen venturing through kelp
- Scientists thought they were too big to fit so attached cameras to 8 great whites
- They took 28 hours of footage showing the predator stalking seals through it
Eerie footage taken from a camera attached to the back of a Great White shark shows how the giant predator uses kelp to stalk its prey.
The enormous fish has previously never been seen venturing inside kelp forests as scientists thought they were too big to fit.
But scientists have now attached cameras on the back of eight adult great whites show they are able to navigate through tight channels and barge through larger obstacles.
Footage taken from a camera attached to the dorsal fin of a Great White shows how the giant predator uses kelp to stalk its prey. Clockwise: a) D footage of a white shark encountering seals b) seals hunker to the sea floor and blow bubbles c) The shark swims through the bubbles d) shark swims through the kelp e)The shark pursues the seals f) three Cape fur seals hide in kelp
Murdoch University PhD student Oliver Jewell was involved in the research and said: ‘The film we collected gives us a new perspective on this species.
‘We can see how they interact with their surroundings in real time, and they are able to make some pretty spectacular 180 degree turns in the kelp forest.
‘In the past we would have to guess. We would track sharks to the edge of the kelp forest but then lose the signal.
‘Being able to see what these fish do in this habitat helps to bring another layer of understanding to the behaviour of these ocean giants.’
A total of 28 hours of footage was gathered and includes shots of seals using the kelp to avoid the predators.
They also exhibit anti-predatory techniques, such as blowing bubbles to confuse any would-be predators.
No direct footage of any kills was obtained by the researchers, indicating the kelp benefits the seals more than the sharks.
Researchers needed to entice white sharks to their boat to safely attach the cameras.
They placed chum in the water and used a seal decoy to attract them close enough, so they could use a fishing rod-like device to carefully clamp the specially mounted camera and motion sensor on to their dorsal fin.
The tags were designed to painlessly stay on the sharks for a set number of hours before popping off and being collected at the surface.
Dr Taylor Chapple, expedition leader from Stanford University, has been studying white sharks for more than 15 years and said the wealth of data the tags provide was remarkable.
Researchers needed to entice white sharks to their boat to safely attach the cameras. They placed chum in the water and used a seal decoy to attract them close enough, so they could use a fishing rod-like device to carefully clamp the specially mounted camera (pictured)
The tags were designed to painlessly stay on the shark’s dorsal fin for a set number of hours before popping off and being collected at the surface
‘At times we would have to spend many hours at sea, perched over the side of a boat to deploy these tags, with no guarantees to even see a shark. But the incredible data made it all worthwhile,’ Dr Chapple said.
‘Not only can sharks be tricky to find, attaching the clamps to animals that manoeuvre through kelp proved equally challenging, as the kelp often dislodged the valuable instrument.’
While invaluable, Mr Jewell said the footage collected revealed only a small aspect of a white shark’s behaviour.
‘We are really only scratching the surface with this study – there are so many layers to their behaviour. In the 12 years I’ve been studying them, it’s become clear white sharks have some very distinct behavioural traits,’ he said.
‘More research of this nature is needed to help reveal more about this incredible species, so we can inform management and do more to ensure their survival.’
The project was a collaboration between Murdoch University, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Stanford University in California.
The research was published in the journal Biology Letters.