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Scientists attached cameras to great white sharks. Watch as they hunt seals

Video shows shark’s point of view as great white hunts seals through kelp forest

Scientists mounted cameras on great white sharks off the South African coast to study how sharks hunt in kelp forests. The study was a partnership between Murdoch University in Australia and California's Stanford University and Monterey Bay Aquarium.
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Scientists mounted cameras on great white sharks off the South African coast to study how sharks hunt in kelp forests. The study was a partnership between Murdoch University in Australia and California's Stanford University and Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The video shows the great whites bobbing and weaving through a kelp forest as seals avoid becoming dinner for the sharks.

Researchers managed to attach video cameras to the dorsal fins of eight great whites hunting for seals off the coast of South Africa, according to the journal Biology Letters.

“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,” Oliver Jewell, a doctoral student from Murdoch University in Australia, said in a press release.

“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,” he said.

The scientists used specially-designed cameras to catch the action, the researchers said.

“To safely attach the cameras, the researchers first needed to entice white sharks to their boat. 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,” according to the press release.

“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,” said Taylor Chapple, a researcher from Stanford University who led the expedition.

“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,” he said. The cameras popped off the sharks’ fins after a set time so researchers could collect them at the surface.

The team collected 28 hours of video from the sharks, according to the press release, but the great whites never managed to catch a seal in the kelp forest.

“Several Cape fur seals were also captured by the shark cams swimming through the kelp forest in the Dyer Island Marine Reserve. The footage shows them displaying predator evasion techniques such as blowing bubbles in response to the presence of the shark,” the press release said.

Researchers said in the abstract on Biology Letters that the video shows great whites can hunt in kelp forests, “previously assumed inaccessible to these large predators.”

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.


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