Two researchers swam alongside the enormous shark for hours, taking breathtaking photos that went viral online. The shark is possibly one of the largest great whites ever recorded — and she may be pregnant.
Shark enthusiasts rejoiced this week after the discovery of a behemoth great white near Hawaii.
The 20-foot (6 meter) female shark was spotted feasting on a sperm whale carcass off the island of Oahu by two shark researchers and conservationists.
Ocean Ramsey, one of the divers who swam with the shark, said she believes the animal is at least 50 years old and weighs an estimated 2.5 tons.
She and her business partner Juan Oliphant spotted the great white near the whale carcass when she started brushing up against their boat.
“She was just this big beautiful gentle giant wanting to use our boat as a scratching post,” Ramsey told the Honolulu Star Adviser.
The shark discovered off of Hawaii bears similar markings as “Deep Blue” — the largest great white shark ever recorded.
“Deep Blue” was the subject of a documentary and has previously been spotted near Guadalupe Island off the western coast of Mexico.
Ramsey and Oliphant later told the Associated Press that they hope to use the now-viral images to push for legislation that would ban the killing of sharks and rays in Hawaii.
“There’s not a lot of sympathy for sharks because of the way they’re portrayed in media and they don’t have the cute cuddly appearance,” Ramsey said. “You can’t hate them for being predators. We need them for healthy marine ecosystems.”
She hopes that the images of her swimming with the huge great white will help dispel common myths about sharks.
Ramsey emphasized however, that members of the general public shouldn’t start jumping into the water with the giant animals — especially when there’s a food source like a rotting whale carcass nearby.
Great white shark sightings in Hawaii are rare as the water is usually too warm for the animals.