Jaws: Drone pilot films (lots of) human-shark encounters

Yesterday our featured drone film thrilled (and chilled) us with frozen scenes right from The Revenant. Today, airborne shutterbug Carlos Gauna gives us the willies with real-life outtakes from Jaws

Even drones flinch

Gauna, a professional photographer in Southern California, shoots all sorts of subjects in a variety of staged and natural settings. This month, however, he drew eyeballs – and dropped jaws – with drone footage of dozens of Malibu surfers having the time of their lives in terrifying proximity to numerous sharks. 

Not just sharks, mind you, but great whites. And by “proximity,” we’re talking the-surfers-actually-touch-them-without-knowing encounters of the way-too-close kind. 

I took a drive south to warmer waters in Southern California and filmed a group of white sharks among surfers enjoying the surf. On a few occasions the sharks approached the surfers closely. The surfers don’t appear to know they aren’t alone in the water. 

Don’t stay in the water

Gauna’s description is a paragon of understatement. His top-down angle filming of the translucent waters makes it evident just how close the sharks get – over and again ­– to the insouciant surfers. The humans, just as obviously, never see the forms of their slightly submerged observers. Conversely, those massive, toothy chaperones are clearly disinterested in the potential all-you-can-eat opportunities surrounding them. 

Indeed, at one point a surfer paddling for a wave is so myopic in that pursuit (we’re like that in the lineup…) that he actually appears to touch the great white while passing over it.

Watching it again, I can’t comprehend how the surfer didn’t see this white shark. The surfer even appears to have slapped the shark with his hand.

Reality thriller flick

Posting his videos as TheMalibuArtist on YouTube, Gauna’s previous work features beautiful drone shots of sharks, whales, and other marine and coastal life. And while he stresses he is neither a marine biologist nor naturalist, his latest footage of great whites uneventfully mingling with people may become a resource oceanic behavioralists turn to for their studies. Gauna admits it may be instructive.

He notes, for example, that most shark attacks are “a result of mistaken identity” – strikes at dawn or dusk, or in murky water where visibility is poor. Humans are also considered lowly ranked on shark amuse-gueule lists. His video, Gauna continues, suggests that in brighter sun and clear water – and when outnumbered by humans – sharks are far more inclined to placidly enjoy the breakers than eat surfers also vying for them. He also thinks these innocuous meetings occur far, far more often than people dare to imagine.

Despite that aplomb, Gauna admits in narrating the gore-free footage that, “somehow, every time a shark gets close to a surfer, I get nervous.” Chances are, you will, too.

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