Deep Blue: swimming with the white shark in the waters of Hawaii


It wasn’t a quiet swim. Electrifying, yes. Exciting, very. But quiet just not. “I thought my heart was about to explode,” said Kimberly Jeffries, one of the two women who approached the shark. After all, it’s not everyone’s job to “walk” in the water with a huge fish of that nature, six meters long, next to it. The picture is impressive: only the mouth of the animal is as big as the body of the diver who seems to caress it. We are in the waters of Hawaii, off the coast of Oahu, in mid-January. And it’s all true.

With the camera

The incredible sequence, also filmed with a camera, stars Deep Blue, the name of the shark, attracted by the warm Hawaiian waters where he was spotted by some brave divers while devouring the carcass of a dead sperm whale. “I thought my heart was about to explode,” so Kimberly candidly confessed. With the photographer there was Ocean Ramsey (she’s in the photo), a well-known environmentalist who filmed the scene in the water. She claims that Deep is different from the others, that she can distinguish between food and humans. “He was so gentle, graceful. Despite her very short distance, Kimberly insists that she never felt threatened. “Even if staring at her in the water made you shiver. But then she admits, “Maybe it’s easy to talk like that when you’re back safe and sound on dry land. I risked it. But it’s the dream of any photographer to shoot an animal in nature.

“I wouldn’t do that”

Ferdinando Boero, biologist, who teaches Biodiversity at the University Federico II of Naples, suggests to be cautious (in the analysis) when talking about sharks, especially of those dimensions. “It is not true that they distinguish a human from the food they are looking for. In California, white sharks eat sea lions that attack from below. If they see a surfer on the surface they attack him because they think he’s a sea lion. Sea turtles, for another example, eat plastic bags, because they confuse them with jellyfish”. The teacher sums up the conversation as follows: “I wouldn’t go for a swim with a six-metre shark. You have to be a professional to do certain things. In the case in question perhaps the shark had already eaten and was full. So it’s true, they don’t attack” Ocean Ramsey, a naturalist who deals with the conservation of sharks, was leading an expedition that had as its objective the observation of the tiger shark, most common in those waters. She accidentally ran into Deep Blue, which had already been spotted in Mexico a few years ago. Photographer Kimberly was part of the same expedition. They both went into the water. “We went out at dawn and Deep stayed with us almost all day,” Ramsey said. Which explains the sense of the breathtaking film: “Show a less aggressive side of the sharks, which usually only make headlines when they attack.

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