A filmmaker has published dramatic video footage showing the extent to which ravenous sharks avoid biting one another during so-called feeding frenzies.
Such behavior seems remarkable given the intimate proximity of dozens of large sharks featured in the White Shark Video production, in blood-scented water baited with but a single hunk of fish.
“With all those razor-sharp teeth flying around in the midst of a highly competitive situation, it’s incredible that nothing’s getting hurt,” narrates Skyler Thomas, the filmmaker and veteran shark diver. “It’s almost as they’re abiding by a set of rules, such as, ‘You got there first, that’s fair. It’s all yours.’ Instead of getting frustrated and starting to attack each other.”
Several species appear in the footage Thomas posted late last month, but lemon sharks of the Caribbean Sea are featured. (Lemon sharks, common off Florida and in the Caribbean, are stout predators that measure to about 11 feet.)
Thomas told USA Today that his group had hoped to lure tiger sharks for a diving expedition, but instead dozens of lemon sharks surrounded the boat. The crew instead teased the sharks with a bait on a line and dipped pole-cameras beneath the surface “to capture what it looked like from the viewpoint of the shark’s mouth.”
The sharks bumped one another and a few came close to biting other sharks in what Thomas described as “mistakes” that were quickly corrected.
One such mistake involved a lemon shark that nearly bit the pectoral fin of another shark, but opened its jaws to reject the fin and continue its search for the source of the scent.
Another involved a shark that almost bit another shark’s face.
That shark, Thomas says in the video, “seems highly aware that the wrong thing is in its mouth, and it wants that thing to get out of its mouth. Because what does it benefit the shark to bite down on something that it doesn’t intend to eat?”
Footage of that episode was supplied to Thomas by cinematographer Andy Brandy Casagrande of ABC4Explore. Additional footage was supplied by videographer Dan Abbott. White Shark Video produces periodic Facebook and YouTube videos designed to foster a greater understanding of large sharks.
Most large shark species behave in this manner during feeding (or chumming) situations involving scuba-diving expeditions, but great white sharks have been known to bite smaller white sharks before advancing toward the bait.