- Great white sharks will often leap from the water, or ‘breach’ in order to catch prey that is moving quickly
- Sometimes sharks can jump with so much force they launch 10 or more feet in to the air, which is incredible when you consider they can grow beyond 2 tons, with some great whites recorded growing even larger.
- Sea birds are a part of great white shark’s diet, albeit a rare and less common one than seals, crustaceans, and other sharks
When you’re on a shark tour out of Port Lincoln, Australia, you expect to see sharks. A shark fin swirling about wouldn’t be a huge surprise since that’s exactly what you’re looking for.
But what onlookers didn’t expect to witness this day as they were out on tour with Calypso Star Charters is the shocking moment when a great white shark lunges out of the water to feast on an unsuspecting petrel bird.
The video opens with a shot of the water and some rocky land off in the distance. Shark fins can be seen peeking out of the water on the center left of the camera frame, several yards from a petrel bird that’s floating atop the water.
As the shark approaches the bird (which has apparently been enjoying a few pieces of tuna used as shark bait), the bird notices and flies off a few feet away, its feet pitter-pattering on the water.
The crowd can be heard murmuring in the background as the shark approaches the bird. They’re not sure if the great white might attack—but they just keep their eyes glued to the scene. They let out a few laughs and giggles as they notice how the petrel bird nonchalantly gets away.
The shark turns around and heads back for the bird and a man behind the camera can be heard tsking, knowing that the bird is still in danger. Once again, the bird spots the shark and flies a bit higher and a bit further away this time to keep itself safe.
The video cuts to another moment of the same scene—the petrel bird is enjoying itself, floating on the water, facing to the right. From behind the bird, you can see the great white launch toward the bird as spectators bellow in surprise.
Commotion can be seen in the water but it’s not apparent yet what has occurred. As you see the shark’s tail splash into the water, you can make out the wings of the bird, just above the splashes. It’s attempting to fly away but it appears the shark has managed to capture its legs between its powerful jaws.
The bird continues to struggle as the crowd murmurs and shouts in disbelief. The video cuts again to a scene where the bird is closer to the boat and some chum appears to be gliding along the water attached to a string just in front of the boat.
Suddenly, the great white shark lunges out of the water—as if in a scene out of a movie—its mouth gaping open, ready to snatch the bird in one fell swoop. It succeeds and the shark can be seen chomping down on the bird, with the bird’s wing hanging out of the shark’s mouth.
The shark dives back into the water with bird and all as the crowd exclaims in surprise, amusement, and horror. A big splash can be seen and heard as the shark swims away from the boat. Onlookers return to gratified, animated expressions as they process the shocking moment they just witnessed.
Do Sharks Normally Eat Birds?
Known as some nature’s most naturally gifted hunters, mature great white sharks possess the strength, speed, and agility to close in on all kinds of prey both in and out of the water. Their varied diet is known to include fish, dolphins, sea turtles, and seabirds like this one. The largest portion of a great white’s prey is usually made up of marine mammals like seals and sea lions for their high fat content.
But, as demonstrated here, there is hardly any seafaring creature that is totally safe from the jaws of this mighty predator. The types of birds on a shark’s menu have been a topic of great interest for researchers. A relative of the great white, the tiger shark, has been observed dining not only on seabirds like this petrel, but also on songbirds, like those you might find in your backyard.
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