Great white shark caught on camera in the Gulf

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Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 5:09 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A group of divers fishing in the Gulf over the weekend came across a once in a lifetime sight -- a great white shark -- and they got it all on camera. Look closely at the video and you can see the massive shark not far from where the divers were.

We showed Suncoast beachgoers what the divers had captured, and asked how they would feel if it were them in the water with one of nature's most feared predators.

"I would have a very difficult time breathing," said Andrea Francaviola of Sarasota.

'I think it's fascinating. I just can't even imagine," said Lisa Labonte, owner of the Siesta Key Beach Pavilion.

The divers were quoted as saying the shark was so big, it looked like "a submarine with teeth."

This most recent sighting comes on the heels of two shark-related incidents last week: the capture of a mako shark near Longboat Pass, and the tracking of a great white with a transmitter attached that alerted scientists it was swimming near the coast of Charlotte County.

This group of divers came face to face with the great white while fishing 80 miles west of Sanibel Island, though scientists with Mote Marine say this great white is not the same one that a group called Ocearch has been tracking. That one is Betsy, the other white shark, and she was recently located off Charlotte County. Betsy was tagged back in August 2013, but her presence offshore has some Suncoast residents anxious.

"Anybody should be concerned, because if they can be 60 miles out they can be 60 feet out," said Venice resident Jerry Thier. "They can be right up at the beach. That happens, too."

However, experts at Mote Marine say there are many reasons that it's rare to see a great white in Gulf Waters. For one, the sharks tend to cover large areas like the Atlantic Ocean. Their food source tends to be found in the Atlantic as well, and sharks are attracted to areas where whales are reproducing.

But now, thanks to real-time tracking and the immediate access to social media, people are more aware of great whites when they do happen into Gulf waters. Ocearch researchers maintain a website and have created a mobile app that allows users to track tagged sharks practically in real time.

"The app would be great to take a look at and help us explore and see what's going on out there," Francaviola says.

While some find the technology fascinating, others rather avoid it altogether.

"Well, I'll leave it up to the younger crowd;" says Paul Lorenti, a vacationer visiting the Suncoast from Massachusetts. "I'll just stay out of the water."

Mote Marine scientists say that thanks to the tagging, they are learning about how these sharks operate by following their every movement. They also reaffirmed that great whites are rare in Gulf waters, and beachgoers should not be concerned with them coming close to shore.

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