Stunning Photos Show Huge Great White Shark Leap Into the Air Behind a Surfer

by Suzanne Halliburton
Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Take a look at these stunning snaps of a California surfing contest. A great white shark is photo-bombing the competition.

Jordan Anast is the photographer who captured this instantly viral moment. The Orange County Register printed his photos. And then Anast shared a gallery of this great white shark breaching the water off the coast of San Onofre State Beach near San Clemente, Calif. The photographer said he thought he’d snapped a dolphin when he saw the splash. Then he looked and realized it was a great white shark lurking near surfer Tyler Warren.

“It’s a shot I’ll never get again,” Anast said told the OC Register. “It just looks like ‘Sharknado,’ it doesn’t look real.”

The San Onofre Surfing Club posted a photo with a different angle of the shark, although it wasn’t as astonishing as Anast’s shot. But the Facebook post provided some more information on what the shark apparently was chasing while the surfers were competing. Hint, it wasn’t a wave, but a large bird.

“An uninvited guest popped up during the San Onofre Surfing Club’s annual surfing contest today,” the post said. “Surfers in the water said that it was going for the pelican in the upper righthand corner of the photo. Scored a 10 by all judges!”

Just how big was this great white shark?

It should be noted that the surfing contest went on as scheduled. The surfer didn’t even realize that a great white shark was nearby. Anast thought the shark was about 12 to 14 feet long. However, Chris Lowe, who runs the Shark Lab at California State-Long Beach, believes this great white measured about nine feet. He estimated the length based on the shark’s girth.

Lowe and his crew tag young great white sharks who gather off the coast of Southern California. The sharks feed near the surf zone, feasting on bottom fish and maybe the occasional pelican. So far, the juvenile sharks hadn’t been tracked near San Onofre.

Anast thinks he was in the spot to capture this perfect photo because of fate. He had waited for a parking spot to open. He then explained the reaction to the photos.

“My passion has always been to stop time for 1 second, capture a memory for someone or something that will last forever and show the world my pics through my lens,” Anast wrote on Instagram. “These shots will always be a part of San Onofre history and that is pretty cool.”

Yes, it’s definitely cool to see a great white shark do some harmless photo bombing.