If it’s great white sharks you’re after, the pellucid waters around Mexico’s Guadalupe Island are a good place to start.

With behemoths like "Deep Blue" swimming around, it’s not hard to see why shark-seeking tourists flock to the Mexican coast every year. But if you have nature-documentary-inspired visions of these apex predators leaping out of the water in pursuit of prey, you might be disappointed: Guadalupe’s sharks prefer to stay submerged. So when photographer Gerardo del Villar filmed this young great white breaching in 2011, he knew he had something special.

Del Villar recently uploaded his clip to YouTube. Linking to it in a Spanish-language blog post, he explains that unlike the great whites that leap out of the water in spectacular fashion while hunting in the murky waters off South Africa’s coast, Guadalupe’s sharks are more conservative.

The crystal-clear Mexican waters don’t lend themselves to ambush attacks from below, so an airborne shark is not a common sight. Del Villar speculates that on the rare occasions they do breach, it's either to shake off parasites or as a display of dominance.

However, according to Shark Diver’s Martin Graf, whose company was pivotal in the development of shark-diving tours on the island, it is usually younger sharks that show off their breaching skills, and the patterns of this behaviour are not clear. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” Graf told GrindTV. “Usually they breach without any chum or hang-baits in the water. Early morning and dusk seem to be their preferred times, but it can happen any time.”

According to Graf, the Shark Diver crews typically witness about five to ten leaping sharks each season. “It’s just rare that you actually get it on video, because the breaches are not usually by the bait,” he explains.

Marine Conservation Science Institute president Michael Domeier believes that the topography of the ocean floor near Guadalupe may offer an explanation. “The bottom drops off very steeply at Guadalupe, while in South Africa the water is very shallow for miles,” he told GrindTV. “So the seals at Guadalupe can dive deep as they swim away from the island, using the rocks, etc, for cover as they move away. Seals in South Africa can’t go deep and they get nailed by the sharks at the surface.”

We like to think the sharks in Cape Town just like to catch a glimpse of iconic Table Mountain every now and then. Can’t say we blame them really …

White Shark Breach Related Content 2015 08 28

Header image: Lwp Kommunikáció