On Friday, a group of tuna fishermen working for the bustling tuna farm in Port Lincoln, South Australia, were transporting what appeared to be thousands of fish when they spotted a large fin moving silently through the water alongside the barge. Moving closer to the edge of the ship, the fishing crew realized it was a monstrous great white shark, its sleek grey body stretching an alarming 16 feet just beneath the clear blue surface.
For Australian tuna fishermen, shark encounters are nothing new. “It’s quite common for these huge sharks to haunt the tuna farms,” Australian fisherman Trapman Bermagui explained to Daily Mail. This time, however, the men onboard couldn’t help but feel a mixture of awe and terror at the sheer size of the great white.
“Check out the size of this Great White Shark,” Bermagui wrote in the caption alongside the unbelievable image. “See the guy in the photo for reference.”
The fisherman is indeed dwarfed by the colossal predator. Thankfully, the shark kept a respectful distance from the tuna barge. He or she was no doubt hoping for a free snack – the experienced fishermen, however, know better than to hand-feed a wild great white shark.
“Gonna need a bigger tuna net,” one user joked in response to the astonishing image. “Absolute monster,” another said.
Monster Great White Shark is Far From the Largest on Record
Though we can’t know for sure, the Australian behemoth was likely a female great white shark. While males grow to impressive lengths of 11 to 13 feet on average, females are even larger, growing to 16 feet in length and beyond.
So, believe it or not, the 16-foot shark stalking the tuna boat wasn’t a record-breaking find – not even close. That record is currently held by Deep Blue. The stunning female is 20 feet long from snout tip to tail fin. She was found in the fall of 2013 by shark expert and researcher Mauricio Hoyos Padilla.
During the historic expedition, researchers were tracking great white sharks as they hunted elephant seals off the coast of Guadalupe Island, a small island 160 miles from Mexico known for its thriving great white population.
“We were looking for a shark to set a transponder and follow it with a special device from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute known as a shark-cam,” Hoyos Padilla told Newsweek. “This device is able to get readings about speed, depth, orientation, topography. It has six cameras installed mostly on the frontal part.”
“Suddenly, this huge female passed under the boat and we were amazed by her size. We tried to tag her, but the tip did not work properly. We had to jump into the mother boat to fix it.”
“A few minutes after she came back to our skiff and we were able to set the transponder,” he continued. “We got amazing footage of Deep Blue close to the bottom, taking advantage of her dark dorsum pigmentation to camouflage with the color of the bottom.”