Wild Things

This Is What It Looks Like to Get Attacked by a Great White Shark (Spoiler Alert: It’s Terrifying)

Some people have reasonable crippling fears: Heights, drowning, finding out what’s actually in a Slim Jim. Not me. I saw Jaws when I was an impressionable 10-year-old, and from about the moment the Kintner kid bought it, I’ve been absolutely certain that my life will end painfully in the mouth of a great white. And if you’re at all like me—distrusting of shadows in the water, a childhood spent looking over your shoulder in the ocean (and, sometimes, the swimming pool)—then the video above should swiftly stir your galeophobia right back up to the surface.

The cold-sweat-inducing footage comes courtesy of the good people at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who in 2013 brought an underwater submersible to Guadalupe Island in Mexico and recorded great white sharks in their natural habitat.* What they ultimately captured on camera, unsurprisingly, was terrifying.

The submersible—dubbed the REMUS “SharkCam”—is what’s known as an autonomous underwater vehicle, and in addition to being outfitted with six different cameras, it features technology that enables it to track animals that have been tagged with a transponder beacon. So, basically, the Woods Hole researchers used the underwater drone to hunt down previously tagged great whites, oftentimes coming up on the sharks from behind. Needless to say, the sharks were unimpressed.

As you’ll see in the 5-minute-plus video of the trip, the curious sharks attack the SharkCam from all angles, resulting in a terrifying highlight reel of great white hunting tactics—all from the POV of the hunted. It’s equal parts horrifying and awesome, and definitely worth a watch. It almost—almost—makes another 18 years of Amity Island nightmares worth it.

Correction, Aug. 6 2014: This post originally misstated the name of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.