These photos were taken by a lifesaver rescue helicopter just off the shores of Marino Rocks in Adelaide, Australia on Sunday. The pictures were posted to Shark Alerts South Australia’s Facebook page, which quoted a crew member of the helicopter as saying it was the largest shark they had ever seen.
“It’s the biggest [I’ve] ever seen as a crew member in the Westpac chopper, we put it down as 7m the photo really doesn’t do it justice,” said the unnamed crew member.
Intial estimates placed the shark at around 23 feet long, which is well past the upper limit for a great white and is comparable to the fictional shark “Jaws” from the 1975 film. Understandably, online observers found that hard to believe, but Shark Alerts said the crew compared the shark to their helicopter, which was just under 20 feet long, and found that the shark was bigger.
“They didn’t have a tape measure, of course, but that is how long they estimated it to be,” a spokesman from Surf Life Saving South Australia, which operated the helicopter, told the Newcastle Herald.
The sighting of the shark prompted the cancellation of a nearby surfing carnival and the evacuation of swimmers from the area. Rescue personnel deployed jet boats to keep an eye out for the shark, but said the fish had already moved off into deeper waters and was not seen again. Of course, this only encouraged skeptics, who say the shark was likely much smaller than the rescue workers thought.
After looking at the pictures, and without a size reference, we can’t really say for certain if there’s any truth to the “Jaws-sized” great white. What do you think?