For many people, great white sharks are the true terror of the deep. (We can thank the effect Peter Benchley's Jaws had on popular culture for much of that.)
Divers off the coast of Hawaii just got the closest we've ever been to one of these apex predators––and it is possibly the largest on record.
According to news outlet KHON2, the great white, nicknamed "Deep Blue," was discovered as she fed on a dead sperm whale nine miles from the coast off the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The creature is believed to measure between 15 and 21 feet in length, according to Dr. Melanie Hutchinson, a shark expert at the University of Hawaii.
Hutchinson said she and her friends were diving and looking for tiger sharks when they spotted Deep Blue. Seeing her was a "fun surprise," she said, noting that about 20 percent of the Great White shark population "from California and Mexico migrate here every year or every other year."
Divers were able to identify the shark as Deep Blue because she was tagged when she was found off the coast of Guadalupe Island around two decades ago.
See Deep Blue for yourself:
Shark researcher Ocean Ramsey and her team identified the creature; Ramsey, who has more balls than any of us, actually got close enough to touch her.
"She was just this big beautiful gentle giant wanting to use our boat as a scratching post. We went out at sunrise, and she stayed with us pretty much throughout the day," Ramsey told the Star Advertiser in an interview. "She looks like she may be pregnant: She's shockingly wide."
Pictures and footage of Deep Blue provide those of us with a fascination for great whites but a fear of dipping our toes in the ocean ever again a more intimate idea of just how big she really is.
Ramsey used these posts to call for others to work with One Ocean Conservation to "ban the purposeful killing of sharks and rays."
Ramsey does not, as you can imagine, recommend swimming cage-free with sharks. (I reckon the majority of us are just fine with leaving that to the professionals.) That said, Deep Blue is possibly the gentlest great white Ramsey's ever come into contact with.
"I'm without words; it's heartwarming; she's probably the most gentle great white I've ever seen," she said. "Big pregnant females are actually the safest ones to be with, the biggest oldest ones, because they've seen it all -- including us."
Deep Blue's garnered quite the warm reception on social media, too.
My favorite image of the day. I’ve never seen anything more amazing. The masters of land and of the ocean, peasfull… https://t.co/aeeCDagwMD— Chris Mix (@Chris Mix) 1547776779.0
Wonderful to know ancient giants like Deep Blue still roam our oceans! In pure awe of such a creature. I hope one d… https://t.co/XmyVLWlcpA— Haley (@Haley) 1547695599.0
Guys I’m obsessed. she is all over my instagram TL. This shark is now thought to be the largest white shark ever re… https://t.co/BWe4N0nQFM— Coco (@Coco) 1547669337.0
Can you blame Deep Blue the shark for visiting Hawaii? Our temps, our beaches, our dead whale snacks... https://t.co/lzGvy91hXC— Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (@Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam) 1547627621.0
We know less about our oceans than we do about space, believe it or not. Our planet is amazing!