It is just a few seconds, but they’re probably seared into the memory of a South African diver—and he caught them on video. In the shot, a great white shark pushes out of the water and lunges toward the camera. The behavior, known as breaching, is pretty rare for great white sharks, but seeing (and recording) it at such a close range is even rarer.
Sharks typically breach when they’re trying to catch a seal or other speedy prey. But hauling up to 2,000 pounds of shark body out of the water is energetically expensive, so they tend to breach only when they absolutely need to. Commercial operations that take people cage diving sometimes use fake seals to get sharks to breach, in the hopes of getting a view like this one.
“I was shooting a film for customer’s cage diving with great white sharks and had this large great white breach in front of the cage, in front of my lens,” the anonymous filmmaker wrote. The area where the video was shot in early April, off the coast of Gansbaai, South Africa, is known for its large great white population. Breaching sharks may be rare, but the filmmaker was in the best place in the world for catching it on camera.