This is the kind of video you’re terrified to watch but can’t look away from.
The footage above, filmed in September, but uploaded to YouTube this week, shows the moment a great white shark rams its way into a shark cage full of divers. The experience was utterly terrifying, according to a lengthy account of the dive.
The group was cage diving off the coast of Guadalupe Island, Mexico, which is considered one of the best places in the world to see great white sharks.
“The dive started off like any other,” wrote diver Katie Yonker in a report for Bluewater Travel. That is, until a 13- to 15-foot female great white approached the cage.
First, the shark bit down on the hose that supplies air to the divers in the cage. In the footage above, recorded by Peter Maguire, a diver in a different cage, you can see a large cloud of air bubbles burst into the water as the hose breaks.
While a divemaster was adjusting the equipment so the divers would not completely lose their air supply, the shark rams into the cage, getting itself lodged between the bars.
“The shark swam vertically down into the balcony of the cage, made a sharp turn, and swam right through the bars of the cage,” Yonker recounted. “She thrashed around for several seconds and in the process got further lodged into the bars of the cage.”
The experience looked like a nightmare, to put it mildly. “In the back of my head I feared the cage would break apart and this would be the end for me,” Yonker wrote. “I was calm, but felt very, very sad.”
Yonker posted the YouTube video below, which shows the view from inside the cage. Near the end of the video, around the 2:25 minute mark, you can see the shark’s enormous body lodged in the cage as Yonker and the rest of the diving group make their way to the surface, climbing past the shark to board the boat above them.
After the divers escaped the cage, the dive team helped to dislodge the shark from the cage and she swam away.
In Yonker’s video description, she emphasizes that this was not a “shark attack,” but simply a moment of confusion for the shark. It was, after all, being lured with chum: pieces of bait used to attract sharks to diving cages.
“I’m aware this video will receive many angry comments about shark cage dives and chumming. Many of you think baiting is wrong and this isn’t fair to the sharks,” Yonker wrote on YouTube.
“Guess what? In some respects, I agree with you.”
In her Bluewater Travel report, Yonker says she understands the issues with chumming, but believes the benefits of observing and increasing understanding of sharks outweighs any negative impacts.
“I am generally against any type of shark feeding or ways in which humans interfere with normal animal behavior,” she wrote. “Guadalupe is a unique exception. Without chum bags, the chance of seeing sharks would be very low.”
“It contributes to a greater understanding that although these animals possess unparalleled strength and power, they are curious, yet very cautious. They are investigative, but discerning. They will look you in the eye, and swim the other direction.”
And while the video is frightening, Yonker believes a better understanding of great white sharks will “dissolve their reputation of being ferocious man-eaters.”
Watch the divers’ shark encounter in the intense video above.