Kayaker ends up in water with great white shark, but is footage misleading?

Kayaker ends up in water with great white shark, but is footage misleading?

Outdoors

Kayaker ends up in water with great white shark, but is footage misleading?

Aerial video footage showing a kayaker being followed by a great white shark, and briefly ending up in the water near the shark, was being widely circulated Wednesday.

But is the footage in some way misleading?

The footage was captured Tuesday afternoon off Santa Cruz, Calif., by Specialized Helicopters, Inc., which titled the video, “Scary! Kayaker in water with shark.”

The kayaker is real, and the juvenile great white shark, measuring perhaps 10-12 feet, is genuine.

But a source who wished to remain anonymous told USA Today that the kayaker is well-known in the Monterey Bay whale-watching community, and that this appeared to have been a publicity stunt.

Video screen grab shows kayaker in the water close to white shark

Others have expressed skepticism on various Facebook comment threads.

The implication was that the kayaker, an expert paddler, jumped off his vessel intentionally – the video does not show him falling overboard or capsizing – to add a danger element to the video.

Kayaker draws attention of great white shark in video screen grab

When asked if this might have been staged, Chris Gularte, director of operations for Specialized Helicopters, said via Facebook message:

“I don’t understand the question? Real shark, real person in water with kayak. We did obviously take the video. Staged is a long way to go from opportunistic.”

Gularte did not elaborate or identify the paddler. But Giancarlo Thomae, a Monterey-based captain, confirmed via Facebook message that he was the paddler.

“Lost my glasses,” Thomae offered as an explanation for falling into the water.

He said he was not in contact with Specialized Helicopters during his paddle, but he did inform the company that he’d be on the water Tuesday afternoon.

Publicity stunt or not, the footage, captured from 1,000 feet above the surface, is interesting.

Juvenile great white sharks are showing in shallow water off Santa Cruz, as they did last spring, to prey on bottom fishes and smaller sharks and rays.

(After white sharks exceed 12 feet in length, they eventually switch prey sources from shallow-water fish to seals and sea lions.)

As viewers can see, the shark is curious about the kayak, and seems to have been briefly spooked when Thomae was in the water. It’s not clear how well he could see the shark, which was clearly visible from the helicopter.

As of Wednesday afternoon there were 41 comments on the Specialized Helicopters Facebook page. A couple inquired about the identity of the paddler – even throwing out Thomae’s name as the man they suspected was the paddler.

Most, however, were from people who seemed merely to appreciate the footage.

–Images are video screen grabs

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