Florida's blacktip shark migration brings dozens of drone photographers to the Sunshine State every year, and one of them got a surprise recently when a great hammerhead joined the coastline crowd.

Hammerheads are actually regular visitors to Florida's waters, and this individual – thought to be around 15 feet (4.5m) – is large, but not abnormally so (as some commenters have suggested). The animals (Sphyrna mokarran) are endangered, and females are known to reach 18 feet (5.4m) – so seeing one of this size is a great sign!

"This all happened just a few hundred feet from us – right on the [shore]," says local videographer Evan Parness, who filmed the encounter off Palm Beach. "When I first noticed the hammerhead swimming toward the school, it looked like a big rock. As I flew lower and closer, I then realized what we were watching. It was an incredible experience! We all started to think [the large shark] was going to eat one of the blacktips ... unfortunately that didn't happen."

While it does look like the hammerhead is stalking blacktip prey (and the intense music certainly adds to the suspense), its real intentions were probably a bit less dramatic. Sharks do eat other sharks, but this one was more likely scouring the shallows for its favourite prey: stingrays

That said, claims that hammerheads can't snag their smaller kin aren't entirely accurate. There's a reason these flat-faced sharks are considered the "Ferraris of the ocean": what they lack in speed, they make up for in agility.

An extremely flexible spine means the great hammerhead can hunt fast food like Atlantic tarpon, which – with a top speed of 35 miles per hour – rank among the ten quickest fish in the world.

"My favorite thing about seeing the ocean from the drone's point of view, is that you never know what you're going to come across," says Parness. "That view never fails to remind me just how incredible and vast the ocean really is – how much respect it demands. It's Mother Nature at her finest."

Florida's blacktip migration coincides with another mass gathering: college students descending on local beaches for spring break. The event has attracted some negative attention this week following a few cases of wildlife harassment, and Parness hopes his video will encourage viewers to give sharks a respectful berth. 

"Maybe if you show this to some of the spring breakers who are trashing the beaches, they won't even show up," he quipped on Facebook. 



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