A Meter Wide Shark Head With 17 Feet of Shark Love To Follow

I have to admit after being down in a sub and spending time looking at video feeds from ROV’s, the crazy animals I see from the deep start to become commonplace. That is why the below video is absolutely off the freakin’ hook! Drs. Eric Vetter and Jeff Drazen was in a submersible off the coast of Moloka’i when a 6-gill shark, at an estimated 17ft, swam within feet of the sub. UPDATE: Please note the follow post here in which Jeff Drazen discusses the encounter.

Dr. M (1629 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.





42 comments on “A Meter Wide Shark Head With 17 Feet of Shark Love To Follow
  1. Yay 6-gills!
    I’m on the video analysis team for the Seattle Aquarium’s 6-gill research project, but our sightings max out at a puny 13 feet.

  2. I’ve been meaning to make a comment to the effect that you just can’t have too many submarine and hydrothermal vent posts. Now, dammit, I have to add sharks to the list.

  3. Wow.

    I didn’t really think sixgills got that big. ( 13 OR 17 feet.)
    I’m stunned.

    I can just imagine the reaction in the sub seeing that fella headed for the camera.

  4. I hear you on that sentiment, Craig, being an ROV pilot and a submersible research veteran myself. I’ve seen some funny stuff, like harbour seals at 700ft, dogfish ramming cameras head-on, etc. But yeah, that’s pretty freakin’ amazing! Largest 6-gill I ever saw was an 8-footer we caught on a research longline in 2004. The weight of it broke the gangion, so it escaped unhurt, thankfully.

    Snail: I’ve been toying with the idea of starting an ‘underwater technology’ blog… might have to get there someday. Subs/ROVs are my ‘thing’ :)

  5. Oh, they get BIG alright. They are see them off of Roatan on every dive there’s bait down there. Typical size in the 18′s is not uncommon. Once they grab the bait they can shake a 9000 pound sub around pretty good.

    Amazing critters!

  6. I just saw an ROV episode of Blue Planet a few nights ago. I can’t imagine ever doing that sort of thing myself, but it is incredibly fascinating. The crazy variety of life forms below the surface is so much more than I could ever have imagined.

    Thanks for exploring!

  7. Hey, can you tell us how far apart those laser dots are? I assume that’s for measurement. It would help to put in in perspective.

  8. Wow – this is way cool. I’ll admit it: there is no way that I would ever go underwater, but it sure is amazing to see this sort of stuff from the safety of dry land :-)

    And here’s what I learned about the Six-Gill Shark:

    The sixgill shark, or Hexanchus griseus, is a common species of deep water shark. It is also one of the largest sharks that feed on prey other than plankton. The shark gets its name from the fact that is has six gill slits. Most other sharks only have five. It is also distinguished by having only one dorsal fin, which is located on the back of its body near the tail. The majority of other sharks have a pronounced dorsal fin on their backs near the center of their bodies. The sixgill is a large shark and grows to a length of up to 18 feet. These sharks have the unique ability to change their color for short periods of time. Since they are slow swimmers, this may help them blend into the background and approach faster swimming fish undetected. These sharks are known to feed on a variety of animals including cephalopods, crustaceans, fish, and marine mammals. They are not usually dangerous to humans unless provoked. Sixgill sharks are found all over the world in temperate and tropical regions, where they have been known to dive as deep as 6000 feet. They swim up to shallower waters at night to feed. Since they spend most of their time in deep water, very little is known about their behavior.

    http://www.seasky.org/monsters/sea7a1l.html

  9. Greg, They are scavengers and have been seen at whale carcasses and pretty gobble stuff up within their reach.

  10. That’s not a shark, that’s a SPACE STATION!

    Definetly a large example of a pure hunting machine. What’s the record?

  11. Thanks for sharing this! I found it via digg (you’ll get lots of Diggers today) and I have to tell you I’m adding scienceblogs.com to my bookmarks- absolutely brilliant! That shark would have had me wetting my pants. What an amazing world we live in.

  12. Freaking sweet. At the start of the video, the two laser pointed at the shark’s head and for a brief moment it looked like the shark’s eyes were glowing.

  13. Great fun video to see. I had the pleasure of shooting the six gill sequence for Blue Planet many years ago, and we pretty much would just bait up the sub and then go down to 1000′ and wait for 6 hours. On the good nights we would have one encounter which never lasted for more than just a few minutes. But what a few minutes they were. Always exciting animals to see!

  14. Tom, Thanks for stopping by our blog! I am a huge blue planet fan and am looking forward to the updated edition. I helped to fact check some of the script for the deep sea part. It was a lot of fun!

  15. I was under the impression that “Shark love” was a euphemism for a grossly malformed, enormously long shark genitals. This link disappointed me, but I’m also relieved.

  16. To the mixing of measurements in the post (and I seem similar comments over at Digg), I am amazed at what people get in an uproar about. To the title of the post, if you actually listen to the video, Jeff Drazen comments (at 1:00) that the head is meter wide. Shortly after that a comment is made about the shark being 10-12 feet (later analysis suggested closer to 17 feet). The title was meant to reflect those comments, i.e. the excitement of something some large. The worst part is that I contemplated changing the title so it was all Standard or Metric. I thought “Nah, surely people will get it when they listen to the video.” Ahh too much to hope for I guess. Note the revised title of the followup post.

  17. Amazing! its so exiting hearing people getting a nuts about it as I would.

    I love being a biology geek!

  18. LOL at your technical terms: “Holy crap!” “Woooooooaaaaaahhhh!” and at the couple of frames around 0:05, when the shark turns to face the cameras directly and the lasers look like red eyes. “Jaw-as”?

  19. I love this video. I’m a science geek and I caught this on DIGG. Great footage. I definitely don’t want a face to face, hehehehe.

    Ignore the post going on about measurement systems. Most people identify with feet, even though science uses the metric system. There is always going to be some jerk in the crowd. If they’re too dense too get it *shrugs* then their comments don’t mean much, LOL.

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