They walked into the surf to help what they thought was a struggling animal. But it was actually there for another reason.
There are virtually zero instances in which a person would see a great white shark in the ocean and willingly move toward it. But two men recently found themselves in just such an instance.
Dale Pearson and a friend were on the beach in Puertecitos, Mexico when they saw the 14-foot creature, which they didn’t yet know was a shark, thrashing about in just three feet of water. Initially guessing that the animal was stranded and struggling, they walked into the water to help, recording video all the while.
They soon realized that the creature was a great white. “That’s a fucking white shark,” Pearson said in the video. “Holy shit!”
However, this realization didn’t send them running for the beach. In fact, Pearson — “a dive boat operator who has experience with shark research missions,” according to The Huffington Post — instead moved in for a closer look, getting within mere yards of the shark.
As dangerous as this was, Pearson was able to minimize his risk by staying behind the shark (which can’t turn around easily) and remaining in water too shallow for the shark to actually swim in.
Nevertheless, Pearson was able to get close enough to see that the shark had a large gash on its back, which he surmised was caused by a boat propeller.
However, Pearson also believes that he wasn’t looking at an injured shark that had been stranded in shallow water. Instead, Pearson contends that the shark came into the surf to hunt stingrays — an assessment soon backed up by Marine Conservation Science Institute President Mark Domeier, according to The Huffington Post.
Given the shark’s behavior in the shallows, Pearson would seem to be correct. “It would come in to the shallows and lay there motionless, then it would move out again [swimming to] six feet of water, circle back in [to the shallows], come into another spot and lay there motionless,” Pearson told The Huffington Post.
Furthermore, when Pearson went back to see if the shark was there the following day, it was not.
But while the shark may have escaped the shallows and Pearson may have escaped a potential great white bite, he and his friend did not leave the water unharmed.
They were in fact attacked by the very stingrays that the shark had perhaps ventured into the surf to hunt. Pearson and his friend suffered stingray wounds, which, along with the shark of course, are all visible in the one-of-a-kind video above.