It went by the unassuming name of REMUS, an underwater vehicle outfitted with six GoPro cameras that would help researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution learn more about how sharks behave in the wild.
What they got was wild indeed, as the shark cam nearly became dinner. It was immediately besieged by great whites as it minded its own business off Guadalupe Island in Mexico during a research expedition last October. As Woods Hole noted in its comments on Vimeo, some sharks thought it a tasty snack, while others seemed to view it as competition, exhibiting territorial behavior.
The hunters lurked underneath, then whipped up from the depths, stealth-style, to gnaw on the vehicle.
"This is the same way sharks hunt seals near Guadalupe Island,” the filmmakers noted in their Vimeo comments.
One shark’s side muscles are chillingly visible, rippling as the giant fish closes its mighty jaws, hanging on and shaking the hapless SharkCam. When REMUS was brought up, it was full of puncture marks—and information.
"Video from REMUS SharkCam is providing scientists with their first close-up view of predatory behavior by sharks in the wild,” the researchers said on Vimeo. "It is also helping reveal previously unknown details about the strategies that sharks use to hunt and interact with their prey."
Though it was shot last October, the footage is being released now to draw attention to Shark Week on the Discovery Channel—where live shark cams and underwater vistas galore are available for viewing. First watch this video, which will make you glad you’re not a seal.
“If this was a seal, it would have bled out,” said Roger Stokey, a senior engineer at Woods Hole, to the Boston Globe. “But they couldn’t kill SharkCam. I do not understand how that vehicle survived.”