Judging by some of the dramatic headlines it's inspired, the video you're about to watch is a lucky escape from a near-miss shark attack.
It's really tough to see how anyone could interpret this particular encounter as life-threatening, and yet some media outlets have offered us gems like "Diver uses camera to prevent great white from attacking" and "Diver avoids attack after face-to-face with great white shark."

The diver in question is Julian Gunther, and since the video made its rounds online, he's been speaking up to share the real story. The footage was captured back in September in the waters off Mexico's Guadalupe Island, where some of the largest great white sharks in the world like to gather, including the famous behemoth "Deep Blue"

Gunther is used to spending time in the company of sharks (in fact, the last time we checked in with him, he'd just swum through a whale shark's poop cloud). An experienced diver, he posts photos and videos of his experiences online in the hope of dispelling the myth that these animals are bloodthirsty killing-machines. 

The September encounter, he says, was actually filmed during a cage dive – not in open water (swimming freely with great whites is illegal in the area). The day's dives attracted a couple of these apex predators, and all of them seemed comfortable and relaxed. After an initial pass, this particular shark decided to come in for a closer look, but at no point did Gunther feel threatened. "I've been around these animals enough to recognise it wasn't in any threatening or attack mode," he says. 

The shark's impromptu inspection was probably provoked by his camera's electrical signals, Gunther suggests. "And there was also this bizarre flailing creature: me," he jokes. "You've got to remember that sharks have no hands, so they've got to investigate things with their mouths, much like a small child or my dog. But apparently I must not even have been that interesting!"

To the inexperienced eye, a white shark might appear inherently threatening, but this isn't the case. Like most animals, these intelligent predators give off warning signs: a change in swimming pace or quick zig-zagging and lowered pectoral fins can all be signs of a grouchy shark. Mouth gaping and gill flaring are also signals to look out for, which Gunther likens to a dog growling at you.

As for the reaction to his most recent video, Gunther is disappointed. 

"I don't post these [clips] with the intention they'll go viral," he says. "By not vetting the incident and automatically labelling it as a "near-attack", these outlets have done a total 180 on what I'm trying to accomplish. I surf occasionally and can only imagine the number of times similar incidents have happened underneath my board without me knowing. The point is, we share the water with sharks much more often than we can imagine. They aren't slaughtering us; actually its the other way around. If you see a shark underwater it is akin to seeing a wolf in the wild: it's a rare experience to be cherished."

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