Sharks are a sight that most people would think may be their last, but as you'll discover in the stories below, it's definitely not the case for everyone.
Sharks are absolutely fascinating creatures: Powerful and ancient, they seem to rule the underwater world without mercy. But behind the scary "man in the grey suit" is a mesmerizing creature and an encounter with one of them always makes for a good story — we certainly never get tired of hearing them. Here are nine of our best shark stories.
1. Great white shark selfies
Photographer Amos Nachoum is just a couple yards from the nose of a great white shark. No, it’s not photoshopped, and nope, there's no cage around him. This is exactly the way to get a shot like the smiling shark at the very top of this article — this second shot is actually from behind the scenes.
Why on earth would he put himself in such a position? To "dispel the myth that great whites are dangerous to humans," according to Nachoum. Even if we believe him, we wouldn't necessarily want to be there ourselves!
2. Building a shark submarine
Fabien Cousteau may be called crazy by most — even by his own sister — but that doesn't stop him from exploring the underwater world in his own unique way.
The grandson of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the most iconic figure of underwater exploration, went to live on the seafloor in the NOAA Aquarius Reef Base off Key Largo, Florida, for a full month — all for the sake of science and filmmaking.
Cousteau also built a 14-foot submarine that looked just like a real shark (pictured above), to be able to go and swim with the great whites and observe their natural behavior. Was he scared? "I wasn’t worried about the sharks — only human error with the machine," said Cousteau.
3. Sea creatures deadlier than sharks
For Steve Backshall, getting face-to-face with some of the greatest predators on earth is just another day at the office. Okay, maybe more like a special day at the office — like when a coworker brings in cronuts for the office.
So are sharks the most dangerous creatures in the sea?
"Fewer than 10 people are killed by sharks a year. That's nothing. You're more likely to be struck by lightning or killed by a falling coconut."Steve Backshall
4. He survived an attack, now he wants to save sharks
If you lost a limb to a shark, would you go back in the ocean, surf every day and work hard to protect the beast that attacked you? Mike Coots did, and his story is absolutely incredible. “A lot of people think I’m an idiot,” he says. But for him, "It's kind of a no-brainer. If you have the opportunity to raise awareness about a species on the brink of extinction then you should probably make the most of it and see if you can’t create something good out of something bad."
5. Swim with the world’s second-biggest shark
Close your eyes and imagine: You’re on a nice dive and everything is absolutely peaceful around you. The sun's rays are making their way into the water, creating mesmerizing dancing patterns in the water. You turn around to signal your friend and you see ... a 26-foot shark swimming directly toward you, mouth wide open. A mouth so big you could definitely fit in there, in one piece.
Sounds terrifying? Not at all: it's a basking shark! Their giant toothless mouth stays open to filter plankton. Diver Charles Hood is an expert when it comes to diving with these gentle giants and observing them. So now the question is: How much minuscule little plankton does an 26-foot beast have to eat to survive?
6. Freediving with the ocean’s greatest predators
Freediving is probably what brings humans the closest to the mermaid state and it's the simplest way to explore the underwater world. As many freedivers focus on depth or time spent underwater, some of them find their mojo by diving with other marine creatures, like sharks for example. Alex Roubaud and Alex Voyer, a pair of French freedivers from Paris, find it’s the best and most natural way to approach animals underwater.
7. The sharks professional divers love to swim with
"What's your favorite type of shark to dive with?" That's not a question we hear very often, but for professional divers, it’s a fun one to answer. From the classic and terrifying great white, to tiger sharks or whale sharks and everything in between: Discover which six species are pro divers' favorites and why.
8. The girl who dives with great white sharks
The photo says it all — it’s absolutely amazing. Once in the water, Ocean Ramsey (perfect name for the job) looks absolutely in tune with the giant beasts she dives with. Having built a reputation of being the girl who dives with great whites, the marine biologist, scuba diving instructor, model and ex-professional freediver is all about raising awareness for her giant friends. With her non-profit venture Water Inspired, she hopes to attract attention to the cause with amazing diving images.
9. This guy survived a perilous swim with sharks
After seeing all the stories above, you might now think this is a bit over the top, but it's not. This is probably the best story you'll see all day, and bonus, it's animated. Adventurer Gavin McClurg going diving in French Polynesia, at night, with tons of sharks and losing the boat. Check out the video above to hear the rest of the story.