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Deep Blue, The World’s Biggest Shark, Invades Comic-Con!

Where can you find a 20-foot long great white shark roaming the streets? Only at San Diego Comic-Con, of course! A crew of 5 carried the shark (about as big as a bus) up and down the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego. And if that doesn’t pique your interest, how about the fact that the model shark is based on a real 20-foot female great white shark, spotted feeding on a whale carcass off the coast of Hawaii! As you can imagine, many shark lovers stopped to pose with the shark for some FIN-tastic pictures!

While we were at Comic-Con we were able to meet-up with Kimberly Jefferies, marine photographer and conservationist, and Mark Mohler, a deep-sea diver, who encounter this massive creature in January.

Here is what they had to say:

So, can you introduce yourselves and tell us a little about what you do?

Jefferies: My name is Kimberly Jeffries and I am an underwater photographer based out of Honolulu, Hawaii.

Mohler: I am Mark Mohler and I am also an underwater photographer and boat captain based out of Honolulu.

Can you tell us about what is was like to swim with this massive creature?

Mohler: So, as divers and wildlife enthusiasts we are always out with small sharks and all sorts of animals which is what we love to see, so to meet Deep Blue was like the epitome of that; she’s one of the biggest predators you can get in the water with, so to be able to do that with her in our own backyard is what really made the experience special.

Jefferies: Yeah, it’s pretty uncommon to get the chance to document in water with great visibility, and especially in such a natural occasion; she was found feeding on a sperm whale. So, we basically went out to document the other wildlife and happened upon her. And to have the chance to document a fully developed female great white, without using anything artificial was a real treat. And she was so concerned with eating she wasn’t a threat to us, so it was a great opportunity.

That’s something that I thought of when I was watching the video that a lot of people don’t get to see; is how docile she was. And I think that’s something people need to see more of to help them understand that sharks are not out to get us!

Jefferies: Right, absolutely! You know sharks don’t have hands, so they investigate with their teeth and unfortunately, we are not built to withstand that sort of investigation so, I think they do get a really bad rap in the media, unfortunately.

So, when was your first time seeing her, did you guys find her?

Jefferies: So, she was only seen on January 13th I had gone out in the morning with one of my friends to survey the sharks in the area and we had actually expected tigers’ sharks to be the apex species there, but we found her there instead. Then we later went on to identify her that evening and then other sharks started showing up.

Mohler: Three large white sharks.

Jefferies: So, all three were female, and they’ve been catalogue and identified now.

How did those sharks compare to Deep Blue?

Jefferies: Oh, they were smaller! We talked to the scientists and they said it was due to the hierarchy of sharks. The larger ones will come through and feed first, and then once they’ve had their fill, the smaller ones will come in, and they will get progressively smaller as the hierarchy goes down. I want to say, Kinonie, one of the bigger sharks seen that day was 16-feet, and then Hallie Girl, the last shark that showed up that day, which we later ID and named, was give or take, 16 to 18-feet long, so a little smaller than Deep Blue, but still really amazing.

And all this happened in Honolulu, right?

Jefferies: Yeah, just a couple miles offshore.

Mohler: We were about 10-miles offshore, the water was approximately a mile deep where we were.

When you jump in the water with this huge shark, what goes through your head?

Jefferies: I’ve been in the water with large apex predators before, pilot whales, orcas, other great whites, this isn’t new to me. And honestly, I was already in the water when she showed up, so I didn’t really have to think about whether or not I was actually going to get in the water; which I would have done anyway, but that decision was taken away from me.

When you saw her did you get scared or were you just very calm?

Jefferies: It was super exciting! And basically, I just wanted to get more pictures, I was like, “oh we should identify this shark”, but no, that never really went through my mind. When you later see the footage, and the public sees the footage, you’ll see how sedated she was in her movements and mannerisms, so it wasn’t very terrifying. It wasn’t like the traditional scary shark attack; where you see it leap out of the water and tears this person apart, there’s blood and bubbles, it wasn’t like that at all! And she’s so round and fat with her little fins sticking out...

And I heard that she might be pregnant, is that true?

Jefferies: It’s hard to say.

Mohler: The scientists we talked to said that a white shark can eat up to 400 pounds of whale meat once a day, so they do get big bellies just from eating like that; and they’ve seen male bellies that are big like that too, and those guys obviously aren’t pregnant. But it does match the cycles of when they would be breading.

Jefferies: So, it would be around the right time for her to be pregnant.

Mohler: But scientist would have to run an ultrasound and blood work to know for sure.

So, I am a huge advocate for ocean and marine life conservation, is there anything you can say to people to make them want to do the same?

Mohler: The first thing I would say is don’t be afraid of them; they’re really not what you see in horror movies and in the media. They are very docile animals and if you get the opportunity to get out and see them, definitely do!

Jefferies: I would say its actually not common to see a shark in the water, your average beach goer isn't going to see a great white in the shallows. But I also think sharks are under a lot of pressure right now between fishing, climate change, and plastic pollution is a huge one; so, I don’t think they are as big a threat to us, as we are to them. It would be really nice if people could re-think those everyday conveniences; do you need that to go cup, or that straw with your drink, probably not, we just need to try to reduce our imprint on the environment.

National Geographics "Sharkfest" combats the Discovery channels annual "Shark Week". However, instead of Shark Week's fear tactics and obscure information, "Sharkfest" is a 3 week shark celebration! "The World's Biggest Shark", aired on July 21st and featured "Deep Blue" herself, alongside Kimberly Jefferies and Mark Mohler. And although the episode has already aired you can go download the Nat Geo TV app, so you can live stream, and re-watch all your favorite episodes!

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