Too close for comfort — great white bites down on GoPro in a terrifying video

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Why it matters to you

We can’t get enough of great white sharks and this impressive GoPro footage reminds us why: They are absolutely terrifying.

Shark researcher Greg Skomal was off the coast of Massachusetts when he extended a GoPro mounted on a pole beneath the surface of the murky water to try to get a look at the face of a great white in order to identify it. He would get much more than he asked for.

The short video opens on a pretty calm (for a shark researcher) scene. A single great white shark slides by and out of frame, then there are a couple of seconds of nothing but deep green Atlantic water, as if a film director called for a dramatic pause. Suddenly, a second shark emerges and charges straight for the camera, opening its jaws and clamping down on it, giving viewers an all-too-realistic idea of what it would look like to be eaten head-first by a great white.

Fortunately, Skomal was able to wrestle the camera away from the animal. He has been studying sharks for some time and has filmed hundreds of them. The behavior he witnessed in this video is completely new, he told New England Cable News. “I hope we know this shark. I’d like to know what the behavior of this particular animal is.”

Skomal said the shark was not one of the 110 tagged by his team, but there are 300 or so sharks in the area that the researchers are aware of. By examining the footage, he hopes to find any identifying markers that can serve as clues as to whether this particular shark is new to town or not.

As for the GoPro, it seems to have survived unscathed. GoPro cameras (like the Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session) are known for their abilities to operate in all manner of harsh conditions, but even they have limits. Skomal explained he believes the bite was exploratory, and that if the 11-foot great white had actually wanted to destroy the camera, it would only have been too easy.

The video was posted to the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries Facebook page, where it received over 13,000 views in one day. Most of the page’s video views number in the hundreds, but there has been one other breakout hit: Another video by Skomal, in which he captured a great white hunting a seal in a high-speed chase that sees both animals jumping high out of the water. We’ve taken the liberty of embedding that video below, because, wow. And yes, we are still terrified of sharks.