CALIFORNIA, United States (NATGEO) — Surf’s up! A video posted Friday shows some great white sharks surrounding a group of paddleboarders.
How could anyone be that calm when surrounded by one of the ocean’s top predators? Gregory Skomal, a marine fisheries scientist and shark expert, chimes in: “I think where these guys were and what they were doing was probably fine.”
Wait, what? We are talking about great white sharks, right? The big, scary aquatic monsters from Jaws?
Well, not exactly. According to National Geographic, the sharks you see in the video are actually juveniles, and they’re not yet big enough to take on human-sized prey. At this stage in their life, they dine mostly on fish and dead carcasses. “The sharks in the video are probably checking the paddlers out, with a level of curiosity but also a level of caution because they don’t know what they are looking at,” said Skomal.
Though adult great whites have been known to take a bite out of paddle and surfboards, Skomal said sharks this young “are very unlikely to bite.” When they grow up, they’ll eat “other sharks, seals, dolphins, and whatever else they can catch.”
Sharks may be scary, but they aren’t a problem for most of us—even if we frequent the beach. Each year, humans kill more sharks than vice versa, and statistically speaking, you’re more likely to be crushed under a vending machine than killed by one. Colin Lecher, writing for Popular Science, put it this way:
“Sharks have been mythologized in our culture as ruthless brutes and hunters, but the truth is humans are way, way more of a threat to sharks than sharks are to us. About 100 million sharks are killed annually, mostly related to “finning” (when the shark fins are sliced off and sold, often for soup).”
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