“This daily breaching behavior lasts the entire South African winter and may be unique to Seal Island,” a host from Discovery UK says as he narrates over incredible footage.
These sharks live in False Bay, an area of water near Cape Town in South Africa. Seal Island is a granite island that is home to many, many fur seals. Great White Sharks love to eat these guys for lunch and breaching out of the water is one way that they catch them by surprise.
One shark that researchers have named “Colossus” is not known for breaching. As a very large shark, this animal prefers to feed underwater. But researchers and observers took a boat out near Seal Island, hoping to find Colossus engaging in the behavior that is so common in this area.
The boat pulls a decoy behind it, hoping to entice Colossus to come up. One of the scientists is nearby on an underwater structure to observe and record the shark’s behavior.
Success! Colossus swims up at high speeds to go after the decoy. Breeching out of the water, you can clearly see the shark’s mouth, gills, and even dorsal fin in the air. The decoy is captured in its powerful jaws. Because the team was ready for this, they were able to capture the breach on camera.
Cheering erupts on the boat. They put out another decoy for Colossus. Even though Colossus hasn’t been in the area long, it’s likely that he’s seen other sharks have success feeding this way.
“In only a few weeks here, he’s learned that launching these surprise attacks is not only the best way to catch a seal, it’s also the best way to beat rival sharks to the punch,” says the narrator.
The giant shark continues to amaze the team on the boat with his breaching behavior. Some of the leaps were so impressive that almost the shark’s entire body was out of the water. Fortunately, the team captured the stunts in both video and still photos.