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Shark Week: Watch a great white shark get predatory on this robot

Great white sharks were filmed chomping on a robot
Great white sharks were filmed chomping on a robot
Wikimedia Commons

As we approach Shark Week (beginning Sunday, Aug. 10) the Discovery Channel and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) gave us a little teaser of those jaws we’ve come to love, from a distance. With the help of the REMUS SharkCam, researchers can monitor specific sharks that have been tagged and on Tuesday, they released a video that was taken back in 2013 off the west coast of Mexico.

The REMUS SharkCam was designed to give scientists a view of tagged and trackable sharks in their natural environment, so aggression was an expected behavior. And that’s just what they got. A 5-minute video shows several sharks approaching the tube-like vehicle from several angles and chomping away at it. At least one of the sharks is an 80-pound, five-foot-long great white.

The first footage we see is the 80-inch-long vehicle approaching a shark from the rear. Ominously, the video then says, “But the hunter soon became the hunted” and it appears to be a scene very similar to one we’ve seen in “Finding Nemo,” where suddenly a large shark face appears and then veers off. Suddenly, the shark attacks from below and you can hear the crunch of the shark’s many teeth against the frame of the vehicle. The shark bites the camera several more times, to try to break its prey. Without success, the shark swims away. The rear-facing camera then shows the shark coming at it from behind and attempting the same moves.

The video describes these actions as territorial. The video also says this shows how the sharks off Guadalupe Island will hunt seals. Their method is to lurk below the clear water in the darkness and then emerge as the seals pass by and then grab them on the tail.

When the scientists pulled REMUS out of the water, they discovered scratch marks all over the end of the tail. WHOI says the device survived several predatory attacks. For comparison’s sake, a man in the video describes just how extensive this damage is. “This is some pretty intense damage right here. That’s tough paint…. I mean if you sat here and banged on this with a screwdriver, you know, a hammer, or a chisel, you couldn’t do something like that.“

This supports previous research that says that most shark deaths are actually caused by the number and how sharp the teeth of sharks actually are rather than the amount of force exerted by the jaws of the animals. The shark didn’t break the structure, but the teeth certainly did some impressive damage.

More footage from this trip will be available on Aug. 11 at 9 p.m. during Shark Week. The program is called, with no lack of drama, “Jaws Strikes Back.”