Debunking the viral shark video: the experts weigh in

By AG Staff 11 December 2017
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A viral video of a man’s encounter with a great white shark has erupted in debate about whether or not the video is real. Here, we get the shark and video experts to weigh in.

FOOTAGE OF A salvage divers close encounter with a large great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) went viral when it was posted on social media last night.

However, the footage was met with immediate skepticism from commenters who questioned the videos overall authenticity and the shark’s behaviour.

The video, posted on the SA spearfishing Facebook page, shows the diver swimming with what appears to be a handheld device. Upon turning his back, a large great white shark emerges and bumps him on the head and continues swimming.

Jane Williamson, a shark expert from Macquarie University said that the sharks behaviour isn’t unusual for a shark that isn’t feeding.

“The video looks real as it’s seamlessly shot and not out of character with what a white shark may do if not in hunting mode.

However she questioned the movement of the camera.

“If you were filming and your friend was bumped by a shark of this size, I would imagine that the camera would move to follow the shark, be dropped or at the very least bump about a bit.

“It’s a very brave diver who doesn’t keep an eye on the shark,” she added.

Colin Simpfendorfer, the Director of the Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture at James Cook University said it was a tough call.

“I’m no expert on faking this type of video, but it looks real to me. If it is real then it is one lucky guy,” he told Australian Geographic.

Tessa Rex, Bauer Media’s senior video producer also weighed in on the video.

“The production of the video is consistent with others on the SA Spearfishing page – there’s no obvious stitching together or masking. If there is it’s a level of sophistication far beyond the scope of a small fishing channel. The encounter seems real and consistent with others on youtube, I’m more dubious about the source,” she said.

The source of the video or where exactly it was shot and when remains mystery.

SA Spearfishing was approached by Australian Geographic for comment.

“We have contacted the diver and are waiting for a response to give out his details,” they said.

They also confirmed the encounter took place in South African waters.