“Whoa! Holy crap!”
That pretty much sums up how we feel about this clip, in which a 12-ft. great white shark jumps out of the water as a scientist tries to capture underwater images via a GoPro.
It happened on July 30 to Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries biologist Dr. Greg Skomal, who was riding on a boat’s pulpit near Wellfleet, Massachusetts, reports TIME.
As the vessel approached the shark it was looking for, the creature breached, causing the stunned reactions of the boat’s crew and a “Did you see that?! Did you see that?!” from Skomal.
“While out on research trips, we’ve seen white sharks breach and we’ve received multiple reports of breaching white sharks this year from fisherman and boaters,” staff for the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy wrote when posting this video to YouTube.
“While encounters like this one are rare, this video shows that they’re certainly possible,” the caption continued. “White sharks are wild and unpredictable animals. This is a good reminder of the importance of not becoming complacent and always staying vigilant when in or on the water.”
In an interview with the Boston Globe, Skomal said he thinks the shark was hunting.
“It interpreted me, my reflection, my shadow, my image — whatever it was — through the water’s surface as a potential prey item, and it lunged at me,” he shared. “There’s an old expression called fight or flight. Perhaps bearing its teeth and jumping up was a way of protecting itself before it took off.”
Skomal’s mission is a weekly one to capture footage of sharks, as the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy is wrapping up a five-year study of the local shark population.
According to the Boston Globe, this is just the second time in five years the Conservancy has captured such an incident.
Despite the shock factor of the video, Skomal said he wasn’t afraid. “I always feel safe. That pulpit is really well-built … I basically have an external cage.
And now he has quite the tale to tell.
“Not man people can say they’ve had a white shark lunge at them when they’re standing four feet above the water.”