Surrounded by large sharks, diver cuts wrist to prove a point

Skyler Thomas prepares to cut wrist as part of a bold experiment.

A common perception is that if a swimmer bleeds from even a small wound, his or her chance of being attacked by sharks is sharply increased.

But that’s not the case, maintains Skyler Thomas, who recently spilled his own blood while in the water to prove his point. The accompanying footage shows Thomas – a conservationist who runs White Shark Video – using a knife to open wounds on his left wrist while surrounded by blacktip sharks.

“We’re in the way, not on the menu,” Thomas quotes researcher Christopher Neff, in the description of a video that has garnered 70,000 views since it was posted to Facebook on Thursday.

His premise was based on a widespread belief that sharks – which possess remarkable senses – can smell a single drop of blood from a fair distance.

“Which means they can smell everything else too… such as things they actually care about…” Thomas states with text within the video. “Which does not include you… and apparently not me either.”

Skyler Thomas bleeds from the wrist as blacktip sharks swim nearby.

While several large sharks were close to Thomas, none seemed interested in his bleeding wrist. (They appeared far more intrigued by the scent of chum used to attract them.)

Thomas told GrindTV that he and his team – Dan Abbott (videographer) and Ollie Putnam (of Sharkservation) – produced the video at Aliwal Shawl in South Africa.

Thomas had previously attended a presentation about the controversial practice of shark culling – killing sharks in the hope of making certain areas safer for swimmers – where it was suggested by a culling proponent “that if you have a cut, you’ll likely be bitten by a shark,” Thomas said.

“I’ve never believed this to be true, but saying so doesn’t get the point across the way showing people does, so I made the film,” Thomas added. “It is quite egotistical (and fear-based) to think a shark is going to drop everything it’s doing, ignore all the other smells in the ocean, and come after us.”

Thomas said he performed this experiment two days in a row, and spent nearly an hour in the water each day.

Comments on the White Shark Video Facebook page were largely from people who thanked Thomas for helping to dispel misperceptions about sharks as blood-thirsty killers. A few implied that it was a foolish stunt, and one commenter suggested, sarcastically, that Thomas try this experiment with more notorious shark species.

Said Thomas: “Critics are saying I should do the video with tigers, bulls, and white sharks. I’m happy to – they just need to raise funds for the trip.”

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