A film crew exploring the light-less depths of the Atlantic has endured a frightening and surreal encounter with enormous sixgill sharks that rammed its submersible, causing crew members to fear for their lives.
(The first shark appears 35 seconds into the video.)
The BBC Earth crew, capturing footage for Blue Planet II, was exploring a depth of about 2,300 feet near the Azores when it encountered a sperm whale carcass on the seafloor.
The sharks, measuring to nearly 20 feet, were feasting on the carcass and became territorial when the submersible arrived.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” a female crew member marvels.
The sharks, with extraordinarily large eyes, were ripping hunks from the whale carcass. But as the sub approached, a few began cruising in and out of the its lights, and occasionally rammed and shoved the vessel.
“He’s pushing us!” a crewman relays to a team at the surface. “I went backwards and he was pushing us to the front.”
Another adds: “The submarine is so strong, but they’re so big and strong that I’m a little bit afraid.”
The sharks eventually abandoned the vessel and continued their feast, and the crew surfaced with striking footage that’ll be featured as Blue Planet II debuts in various regions. (The series will air in the U.S. in 2018.)
Will Ridgeon, one of the producers who was part of the expedition, was interviewed by The Sun.
“It was shocking to see the amount of flesh they can rip out with one bite,” Ridgeon said. “There was so much blood and flesh in the water it was like a horror movie. “More sharks kept arriving. At one point there were seven the size of great whites.”
Sixgill sharks are rarely encountered because they typically exist between 600 and 3,000-plus feet. The sharks are so-named because they possess six gill slits on each side of their heads, versus five for most other shark species. The peculiar-looking sharks are closely related to fossil species dating back 200 million years to the Triassic period of the Mesozoic Era.
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