Oceanic Whitetip Sharks | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

Oceanic Whitetip Sharks | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD


Next on Jonathan Bird’s Blue World: Sharks
that east something disgusting! Ahh, Hawaii. With its beautiful beaches and
warm weather, few would argue that Hawaii is one of the nicest places in the world to
visit. But you know me, I won’t be sitting on the
beach getting a tan. I have come to Hawaii to investigate a marine mystery involving
a whale and a shark. Hi I’m Jonathan Bird and welcome to my world! Pods of Pilot whales live in the waters around
the Big Island of Hawaii. And sometimes they have Oceanic white tip sharks following behind
them. Nobody knows why the sharks follow the whales, but I’d like to see if I can get to
the bottom of this mystery. My journey begins with my friend Drew Bradley
who has a 25 foot boat and knows how to find the whales. We load the boat at 7 AM and set out in search
of whales. Pilot whales are not large. They only reach
about 20 feet long. To find them, we cruise around in the waters about a mile offshore
and look for their dorsal fins. Sometimes this can take a few hours before we find the
whales. What’s that about 1 o’clock? We have found some whales, so now we have
to see if we can get close to them without spooking them away. Pilot whales like to keep
to themselves. They aren’t particularly curious about people, so they often take off when
we try to move in. This small pod seems to be moving along slowly.
I’ll try to get into the water with them and see if they have a shark following them. As I slip into the water, all I can see is
blue. I wait patiently to see if they will come to me. They pass by me, never coming
too close. Getting any decent shots of the whales underwater is tough. After the whales pass, I keep looking for
a shark, but there isn’t one. Apparently not every pod of pilot whales has a shark following
behind. So, it’s off to find another pod of pilot
whales. We don’t find one immediately, but we do come
across a large pod of melon-headed whales. These small whales look a lot more like dolphins
than whales, except they have a funny flat face. They love to play in the bow wave of
the boat just like dolphins. After the melon-headed whales get bored and
swim away, we finally find another pod of pilot whales. This is a big pod and I hope
they will have a shark or two swimming with them. I get into the water again and slowly swim
towards the whales. They seem to be relaxing in the water, just
floating. Pilot whales feed in the deep, far below, and they often rest for a while between
dives. This pair is spy-hopping—a behavior where
the whales float vertically and stick their heads out of the water to take a look above
the surface. They might be curious about our boat. Suddenly I can hear squeaking and clicking.
The big pod of melon-headed whales has come over to play with the pilot whales! I had no idea that pilot whales and melon-headed
whales like to hang out together. It looks like the melon-headed whales like to buzz
the pilot whales and taunt them, as if they are asking them to join the fun. For the most part, only the juvenile pilot
whales join in the action. The adults just float and watch, keeping an eye out for trouble.
But the younger pilot whales chase and play with the melon-headed whales. Then, in the middle of the action, a female
Oceanic White tip shark cruises through the middle, not interested in the fun and games.
The shark is all business. But, what business? The Oceanic White tip is supposedly one of
the most aggressive sharks in the world. Divers are urged to be very careful when an Oceanic
White tip is in the area. The shark is accompanied by a pilotfish. This
striped fish gets its name from the fact that people used to think the shark would follow
the fish to food as if the fish was piloting the shark. Now we know this isn’t true. The
fish is just a moocher that gets a free meal from the shark’s messy eating habits. The shark also has an old fishing hook stuck
in her mouth. This shark was lucky. The fisherman cut the line and released her. She takes a few close passes by me, then turns
and rushes up to my camera. This seems like aggressive behavior, but I
don’t think it is. Oceanic White tip sharks live in the open ocean where there is very
little food. Sharks can sense electrical currents in the water generated by the muscles of fish.
This is one of the ways they find food. Video cameras make electrical currents too, just
like fish. Coming close and bumping the camera is the only way the shark can figure out that
the camera is not food. Once she realizes that the camera isn’t food, she is no longer
aggressive. In fact, she is pretty mellow. Oceanic White tips are supposed to be really
dangerous, but look: this shark lets me pet her. Soon she starts to lose interest in me because
she is hungry and I’m not food. To get her to stick around, Drew throws some
pieces of fish in the water as a snack. This is a clue that tells me a lot about the
relationship between the shark and the whales. If the shark will leave the whales for food,
that means that the shark probably stays with the whales for food. Since the whales are much too large for the
shark to eat, they must somehow provide the shark with food. But how? One theory suggests that the shark mooches
food from the whales, just like the pilot fish mooches it from the shark. Another theory suggests that the shark uses
the whales as moving camouflage to hide behind, so it can sneak up on fish. But I saw something that gives me another
idea what the sharks are doing. This is a new theory that I have never heard before. I saw a shark eat the fecal material of a
whale. Yes, you heard me right, the shark ate whale poop. It’s very possible that a
shark follows a pod of whales surviving on whale poop until the shark comes across something
better, like Drew throwing chunks of bait off the back of his boat. It’s also possible that the shark uses a combination
of these techniques to survive. One thing is for sure, the shark is happy to leave the
whales if something yummy comes along, so the shark is clearly opportunistic—looking
for a meal and open to options. My incredible few days swimming with the pilot
whales and the sharks was the experience of a lifetime, something I will never forget.
And once again it showed me that sharks are amazing animals with all kinds of mysterious
behavior, not just eating machines. It leaves me with many more questions than answers about
the relationship between the shark and the whales, but I learned one thing about Oceanic
white tip sharks. If they are hungry enough, even whale poop is better food than nothing!

100 thoughts on “Oceanic Whitetip Sharks | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

  1. Hey Jonathan, I noticed in all your videos that you don't appear to equalize whilst descending, looks really painful! Are you doing some other technique?

  2. I watch all of your video and I LOVE THEM keep up the good work mate. you have this amazing voice perfect for teaching. thank you

  3. I Wanna be like I Jonathan quick question is it alright to touch a shark or will it get harmed and can sharks drown

  4. I've loved sharks all my life and I'm very passionate about learning how to dive in hope to dive with sharks one day. The only problem is that my family haven't got the money for me to go out and learn and buy all the gear, does anyone have any suggestions on what I could do?

  5. Hey Jonathan, I have one question for you. Have you ever dived in Portugal? I'm sure you would love the Azores! 

  6. Are they really that aggressive? I'm pretty sure I snorkeled with one in the Galapagos when I was on a tour. I wasn't really warned about their aggressiveness but it seemed like the one I was was just sleeping on the bottom under a rock. 

  7. I live on the island of Kauai, and watching your videos has educated me so much about sharks. Now when me, and my friends go spearfishing we sometimes feed the lounging white tips. We've managed to get some awesome footage !

  8. I have to correct Jonathan here because while sharks in general aren't dangerous, it is very important to be extremely careful around white tips. This was a small one and Jonathan was in the water with an entire camera crew. If you encounter a big one on your own, retreat slowly and get out of the water.

  9. My three year old daughter and I LOVE these videos!!! She loves sharks and I"m so glad a finally found an educational, real, show, to show her all the different types of sharks (that she already knows from her figurines) and won't show scary, "man eating attacks" etc… We go hours watching these on rainy days like today. Great job! and Thanks a lot! 😀
    PS: We really wanna plan a vacation to swim with whale sharks now :p

  10. Re: Oceanic White Tip sharks being aggressive … Have you read Jacques Cousteau's The Silent World? Oceanic White Tips are theones who eat people in plane crashes & boat accidents (WW2 had a famous incident of a ship hit with a torpedo, and survivors were stuck in the water overnight… those that survive the night are haunted forever by the screams of their fellow passengers as they got picked off one by one through the night! (It's well documented).

  11. These are the most unpredictable and snap happy superfast rare sharks! I love them. I don't know if it is the White Tip Reef Shark, probably is, (not watched it yet) I hope that these endangeroud species will survive our ways.

  12. One day when I was fishing in rough water an oceanic white tip almost fell into the boat when the waves were up to the, thank goodness it did not!

  13. Love your shows Jonathan. Your shows really make keeping up with all the different underwater marvels so much fun and easier. Would love to dive with you someday 🙂

  14. I really love oceanic white tip sharks! They look so beautiful and mysterious… I hope they'll swim around the ocean freely forever.

  15. If your watching in 2017 like this comment and reply yes if you this the whitetip shark is an Emo shark. it has a lip ring on

  16. i don't now if you are one of those people that hate fisherman but the boat you where going with is a big game fishing boat

  17. In the last clip looks like the whitetip could have tried to give a bite to your leg. What kind of fins are you using? Wouldn't full foot (with foot pocket) with a more straight shape be more efficient?

  18. I think it was Jaque Cousteau who was the bloke who really got the first good quality pictures of these guys. I never thought they were "attractive" creatures, but looking at them now I realise how funky they are.

  19. Nice video, as always. I saw them diving in the red sea.
    Why didn‘t you remove the hook? It would have made the video perfect.

  20. They claim they have killed more humans than the great white. I would say there dangerous. Get them in the right situation look out.

  21. How come the sharks don't get sick when eating whale feces? Does it not have bacteria or diseases that can contaminate the shark?

  22. Swimming with whales becomes much less attractive when you realize they might fart or take a dump right in your face.

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