American tourist Spencer Reilly signed up for a shark cage dive, but he never saw this coming.
In a video shot during his Nov 2. dive in Gansbaai, South Africa, Reilly reveals the terrifying moment when a great white shark hurtles out of the blue at breakneck speed, crashing into the cage with its jaws just inches from the tourists inside.
Despite appearances, the shark wasn’t attempting to chow down on the adrenaline junkies, but instead appears to be chasing a piece of bait put out by the dive company.
The video has renewed some criticism on baiting cage dives in popular sites like South Africa’s Shark Alley. While many tour companies will bait the water to attract sharks and give clients a closer view, biologists warn that the practice can harm the predators, contributing to accidents like the one shown in the video. Chumming or baiting the waters can also lead sharks to associate food with humans, setting them up for potentially deadly confrontations in the future.
In a thread on Reddit where Reilly shared the video, he defended the tour operators, saying the water had low visibility and they weren’t expecting the shark to pursue the bait so quickly. When the juvenile great white sped towards the bait, the operators yanked it to try and prevent feeding the shark, causing it to slam into the metal structure.
Fortunately, all of the tourists were unscathed by their run-in with the great white, although they appear to see it as an opportune moment to leave the water. Meanwhile, the shark can be seem swimming away, presumably just as surprised about the experience as the divers in the cage.