Must See: Great White Shark Stalks Diver To Surface

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Written by Katie Melynn Wood

Updated: November 9, 2023

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Great White Shark stalks diver
© Martin Prochazkacz/

Key Points:

  • A spear fisherman with a GoPro camera captured a bone-chilling encounter with a Great White Shark.
  • Great Whites were once plentiful in South African waters – but are seldom seen now.
  • Johan Potgieter, the fisherman/videographer, barely escaped with his life in this harrowing video.

Spearfishing is a fun pastime that many enjoy. But what happens when a giant shark decides to tag along? One fisherman captured the encounter on his GoPro camera, earning an award for the footage. In the video, Johan Potgieter is spearfishing off the coast of South Africa. He is clearly experienced at the sport, adjusting his gear as he gets ready to go into the water.

great white shark under boat

Once plentiful in South African waters, great white sharks are not a common sight anymore.

©Willyam Bradberry/

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Johan gestures to the camera to come along, then grabs it. He dives down through the murky turquoise water until he sees the ocean floor. Holding his spear gun in front of him, he seems ready for a day of recreational fishing.

All of a sudden, a Great White Shark swims into the frame just inches from Johan. He exclaims as the shark veers toward him. Fish scatter and Johan instinctively backs up in the water.

Great White Shark attack swimmer

Great White Sharks are stealthy stalkers

©Willyam Bradberry/

These sharks are not common sightings in South African waters anymore, although they were once plentiful. They are some of the most aggressive sharks, however. Johan’s alarm at seeing one so close is very real.

The shark swims off but its distinctive silhouette can still be seen through the water. Great White Sharks have rows of very, very sharp teeth and a long snout. They also have a dorsal fin that marks them as a shark and is one of their most recognizable features.

This monstrous shark turns back toward Johan, who keeps his spear gun in the front and aimed at the shark. In the video, you can hear Johan screaming as he watches the shark approach, teeth first. He must be thinking that the shark is looking for some lunch and he’s on the menu.

Great White Shark with swimmer

Great White Shark with swimmer

©Willyam Bradberry/

The shark turns away again, however. Johan doesn’t waste any time kicking with his fins up to the surface.

“White! White!” he yells to those in the boat. Johan swims over as quickly as he can, trying to get out of the water before the shark returns to make a meal out of him.

Glancing back into the water, the video shows the shark still swimming below Johan. He is clearly taking an interest in the man. Johan doesn’t want to stick around to see why, however.

The boat comes over to Johan, who jumps on board. “He nearly ate me,” says Johan. But the man outwitted the shark and lived to tell the tale.

Is Stalking Normal Behavior For A Great White Shark?

great white shark
Great white sharks are known to stalk their prey.

Yes, stalking is completely normal behavior for Great White Sharks. A 2009 study suggests that great white sharks have common traits with human serial killers. They don’t attack at random, they prefer to stalk their prey from afar, lurking in the shadows just out of sight.

You could say that great whites are the serial killers of the sea.

How Large Are Great White Sharks?

Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias

Great white sharks are about 4 feet long when they are born.

©Martin Prochazkacz/

White sharks are born at around 4 feet long and have the potential to reach lengths of about 20 feet, weighing over 4,000 pounds. They have a varied and opportunistic diet, feeding on fish, invertebrates, and marine mammals.

The biggest reliably measured Great White Shark, Randall, was 19.7 feet long, recorded near Ledge Point in Western Australia in 1987. There was also a female shark caught off Prince Edward Island in 1988, measuring 20 feet in length.

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About the Author

Katie is a freelance writer and teaching artist specializing in home, lifestyle, and family topics. Her work has appeared in At Ease Magazine, PEOPLE, and The Spruce, among others. When she is not writing, Katie teaches creative writing with the Apex Arts Magnet Program in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. You can follow Katie @katiemelynnwriter.

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