Divers get up close and personal with great white shark — some biologists aren’t impressed

Two shark researchers who came face-to-face with what could be one of the largest great whites ever recorded are using their encounter as an opportunity to push for legislation that would protect sharks in Hawaii.

But some marine biologists are concerned the social media videos could have a negeatime impact on humans and sharks.

“I can’t believe that ‘please don’t grab the 18-foot long wild predator’ is something that needs to be explicitly said out loud, but here we are,” David Shiffman, a marine biologist who studies sharks, told The Washington Post.

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Beyond magic! Please #helpsavesharks !!!! Incredible swimming with “Deep Blue” one of the largest great white s for hour! Just using our @oneoceandiving boat as a scratching post, so mellow and beautiful. Help ban the purposeful killing of sharks and rays with @oneoceanconservation this year & in your local/international community ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ AHHHHHHMAZING!!!! #Beyondwords still out to sea/going back in ?????? vid shot by @oneoceandiving Shark specialist & my amazing #seaster @mermaid_kayleigh out with @juansharks @forrest.in.focus @camgrantphotography @oneoceanresearch

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Ocean Ramsey, a shark researcher and conservationist, told The Associated Press that she encountered the 20-foot shark Tuesday near a dead sperm whale off Oahu.

The event was documented and shared by her fiance and business partner Juan Oliphant on social media.

A shark said to be ‘Deep Blue’, one of the largest recorded individuals, swims offshore Hawaii, U.S., January 15, 2019.

Michael Domeier, founding director of the Marine Conservation Science Institute, told the Washington Post he was unsettled by her “alarming” behaviour.

“More than 99 per cent of sharks are not dangerous. But that happens to be one that is very dangerous. If you want to talk about sharks being not dangerous, get your picture taken with a different species, not that one.”

He added that touching sharks in the wild is a “very ethical concern in the shark diving industry.”

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I waited quietly, patiently, observing as she swam up to the dead sperm whale carcass and then slowly to me passing close enough I gently put my hand out to maintain a small space so her girth could pass. I know some people criticize touch but what some don’t realize is that sometimes sharks seek touch, she swam away escorted by two rough-toothed dolphins who danced around her over to one of my @oneoceandiving shark research vessels and proceeded to use it as a scratching post, passing up feeding for another need. I wish more people would have a connection with sharks and the natural world, because then they would understand that it’s not petting sharks or pushing them off to maintain a respectable space that is hurting sharks (because trust me if she didn’t like being pet she can handle and communicate ?) it’s the wasteful and cruel practice of grabbing and catching sharks to cut off their fins (which slowly kills them) for #sharkfinsoup in a process called #sharkfinning or the wasteful #sharkfishing or #sharksportfishing If it bothers you that I touched the shark please click on one of the hashtags above and leave them a negative comment first ? #HelpSaveSharks #SpreadAwareness #FinBanNow #bansharkfinning #Sharkfin Vid shot on my @gopro #gopro3000 #goproforacause out with @oneoceandiving with @juansharks ❤️ @mermaid_kayleigh ? @camgrantphotography ❤️ @forrest.in.focus ? @oneoceanresearch @oneoceanglobal @waterinspired @oneoceansharks @oneoceanhawaii @oneoceaneducation #savetheocean #sharktouch #touchingsharks #oneoceanteam #discoversharks #discoverocean #greatwhitesharkinhawaii #freedivingwithsharks #whitesharkhawaii #deadwhalehawaii #dolphinsandsharks #?? #Hawaii #sharka ???

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The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources said it was aware of photos of the great white and that tiger sharks also have been feeding on the whale.

Oliphant, who photographed the now-viral images, said it’s unclear if the shark is the famed Deep Blue, believed to be the largest great white ever recorded.

Ramsey said she has been pushing for a bill that would ban the killing of sharks and rays in Hawaii for several years, and hopes this year the measure will actually become law.

A shark said to be ‘Deep Blue’, one of the largest recorded individuals, swims offshore Hawaii, U.S., January 15, 2019.

— With files from Global News

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