Watch a Crew Get the Scares of Their Lives When Massive Sharks Attack Their Submarine

Submarine researching waters
© Mark Agnor/

Written by Chris Madden

Updated: October 23, 2023

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Deep Sea Sharks Try to Fight a Submarine, Thinking It’s There to Steal Their Food!

In the gripping underwater adventure video below, a small submersible plunges 700 meters into the depths of the ocean to come face to face with six-gill sharks. The purpose is to explore the fate of a sunken whale carcass. As the intrepid crew navigates through the darkness, they encounter a mesmerizing sight. 

They see a swirling “dust cloud” composed of millions of tiny flesh particles gently cascading from the massive carcass. The crew’s excitement mounts, but the thick cloud conceals their view. Their submarine’s lights cannot penetrate the cloud.

With anticipation building, the whale carcass finally emerges into view. A surprising and formidable company of up to a dozen six-gill sharks surrounds it. These sharks possess a prehistoric appearance and the ability to thrive in the deep sea, making them a renowned species. The sharks fiercely compete for their share of the feast. Their ferocity amazes the crew.

Aggressive Food Frenzy Turns Its Anger Towards the Unwelcome Submarine Intruder!

Suddenly, the atmosphere shifts as the sharks’ aggression escalates. They begin to bite at each other in a feeding frenzy! The crew watches in awe as the sharks momentarily forget about the whale. Instead, they turn their attention to the submarine, mistaking it for a rival predator. The massive creatures ram and push against the submersible. Their snouts even ramming up against the large glass viewport.

Fear takes hold of the crew as they witness the immense strength and size of the sharks. They wonder, could these confused predators potentially shatter the submarine and endanger their lives? Thankfully, the submersible proves its resilience as it withstands the forceful assaults. Gradually, the sharks realize the submarine poses no threat to their feast and they return to their scavenging. 

As the tense encounter subsides, the crew can finally catch their breath and reflect on the heart-pounding experience captured in its entirety in the clip below. Finding themselves amidst the serenity of the deep sea the crew returns to amazed observation. They continue to record the sharks feasting on the whale carcass. Though they’ll hopefully not be too afraid to continue their research, this experience is sure to have made them appreciate the danger of deep sea exploration!

A close-up of a Sixgill Shark.

A close-up of a Sixgill Shark showing its pitch black eyes, as the shark has evolved to rely on other senses in the dark of the deep sea.

©Greg Amptman/

Six-Gill Sharks, the Prehistoric Deep Sea-Dwellers

Six-gill sharks are fascinating creatures of the deep sea. Their rich history of discovery dates back to the 18th century. Pierre Joseph Bonnaterre first identified these enigmatic sharks in 1788. They recognized them as a distinct species within the Hexanchidae family. 

The six-gill sharks boast a prehistoric appearance renowned for their ancient lineage. It harkens back to their evolutionary history, dating back approximately 200 million years. Unlike most sharks that possess only five gills, they have truly stood the test of time. They have a unique six-gill configuration on their sides.

As formidable predators, six-gill sharks possess a diverse diet. They showcase their adaptability to varying environments, hunting large fish, squids, and smaller crustaceans. Blessed with an extraordinary sense of smell, they can detect even the faintest scent of prey. This makes them efficient hunters in the dark abyss of the ocean, as well as apt scavengers!

Close up of a shark attempting to take a bite out of a dead blue whale

Before falling to the ocean floor, a whale carcass will be buoyant enough to float. In this time creatures such as

great white sharks

happily eat their fill of the fatty blubber covering the whale.

©Alexandra Childs/

How Many Types of Animals Find Sustenance from a Whale Carcass?

As a sunken whale carcass descends to the ocean floor, an intricate and diverse array of animals seize the opportunity for a feast. Scavengers like hagfish and sleeper sharks are among the first to arrive, attracted by the pungent scent of decay. These resilient creatures devour the soft tissues, making quick work of the easily accessible parts. Following closely, a swarm of deep-sea crustaceans, including amphipods and isopods, scuttle in, leaving no scrap untouched.

As days turn into weeks, the feast intensifies with the arrival of larger predators. As seen in the video below, Six-gill sharks, with their prehistoric prowess, make their presence known. Feasting on the remaining flesh and cartilage, devouring huge chunks of the deceased whale. Meanwhile, giant squid tentacles extend from the depths, adding to the macabre spectacle.

Months pass, and the whale carcass gradually becomes a hub of activity for a multitude of organisms. Osedax worms, resembling delicate underwater flowers, colonize the bones, breaking them down and extracting nutrients. Drawn to the abundant food source, deep-sea octopuses display remarkable intelligence as they navigate the predator-filled environment.

Over time, a diverse community of life surrounds the once-majestic whale, reducing it to a skeleton and stripping it of its flesh. This process can take several years. During this time, the sunken carcass becomes an oasis of sustenance, nurturing an ecosystem that thrives on death.

Gradually consuming the carcass, it releases valuable nutrients that sustain life on the seafloor. It supports a delicate balance in the deep-sea ecosystem. Such whale falls are of utmost importance to the intricate web of life beneath the waves. They provide sustenance for various species and contribute to the overall health and productivity of the seafloor environment.

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About the Author

Chris is a lifelong animal lover with a passion for writing and a natural tendency to explore the internet in pursuit of new wildlife and nature facts! He is completing his Bachelors in Political Science at Concordia University in the Spring of 2024 after a science-centric high school career. Aside from studying and writing for A-Z Animals, he has a budding music career and enjoy spending time outside year-round, from swimming to skiing!

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