The vacant gaze of a great white shark’s eye — the glossy black orb appearing so lifeless and unrevealing — is among the attributes that make this apex predator so mystifyingly forbidding.
But perceptions are changed for divers who are able to observe from arm’s length when sunlight at the right angle shows detail and provides an eerie assurance that white sharks do not gaze blankly at all.
They closely inspect those who inspect them, seemingly with the same level of caution and curiosity.
The accompanying footage was captured by Andy Dellios from a surface cage at Guadalupe Island off Mexico’s west coast. Viewers can see the shark staring directly into the camera lens, revealing eyeball anatomy as rarely seen in most white shark footage.
Said Skyler Thomas, who posted the clip to the White Shark Video Facebook page:
“With some species of shark it’s fairly easy to see the detail and color of their eyes. With other sharks, like the white shark, it’s not so easy. The ‘black eye’ reputation is aided by the fact that the cornea is mostly black and the iris is dark blue.
“But when the sun catches the white shark’s eye several things happen: The blue becomes more evident, the edges of the sphere are highlighted, different sections of the eye become more distinct, and if the eye rotates the white edges of the orb come into view (also helping the eye stand out from the darkness of the cavern it sits within).
“Eye contact with a shark is a magnificent experience. Having a white shark look you up and down is humbling to say the least.
“Seeing that there is a mind behind two tons of killing power, that it acknowledged you, and chose to swim on is something that can only be explained through first-hand experience.”
Guadalupe Island, located 160 miles west of the Baja California port of Ensenada, is one of the world’s premier destinations for diving with adult white sharks in gin-clear water. The peak season is late summer through fall.
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