The waters of Australia are home to the great white shark, a prodigious animal that frightens other sea creatures.
We found the great white shark in the waters of the south coast of Australia, a crowded fed by waters from the Antarctic ice continent life. With its two-ton, this great wild predator prowls the Australian beaches in search of its most coveted prey, the sea lion. We dive on the Australian continent to see the beautiful and varied creatures that hide in its waters feared of the white shark.
The waters that bathe the south of Australia are a link preserved from a former union whit the Antarctic.
For the sharks, this is a region of plenty. The basic design of their bodies is 300 million years old, and is literally perfect. But only one of them is called Death. Beyond the reef lies the kingdom of the great killer, the vast blue, the cold waters which are tinged with red when hunger demands. The great white shark, two thousand kilos of savage strength at the service of a mouth. A prodigious animal which, after hundreds of year of blind terror, we are now learning to admire.
As we move further up the west coast of Australia, and approach the Tropic of Capricorn, corals are more in evidence, and start to form reefs. The coral reef is a very different ecosystem from that of the cold waters of the south. The coral reef is like a gigantic self-contained organism, in which energy passes from one layer to the next, with just two essential ingredients - the sun and the sea. The corals are specialists in poor waters like these, provided they are clear.
We arrive in the dominions of the great white shark, the dark blue waters. And here, a tragedy, repeated every year, is about to occur. The sea lions sense that the breeding season is approaching. Along the coast of southern Australia and Tasmania, they begin to gather near suitable places, playing and swimming with their characteristic skill.
The great white sharks like nothing better than a fresh fur seal – warm red meat, covered in delicious fat, clean and easy to digest. But the great white shark comes to its annual rendezvous with the seal cubs. All it need do is approach the colony, and wait for its chance.
This individual is eight metres of sheer fury, and almost two thousand kilos of expert hunter. Though it is a fish, its blood is ten degrees centigrade warmer than the surrounding water, so its muscles perform better in attack. It detects the electrical fields generated by its victims, and it is equipped with a system of navigation based on the earth’s magnetic field. Its sense of smell is infallible, and the muscles around its eyes are warmer than the others, to give it optimum sight.
The black legend of the white shark has been forged on the basis of exaggerations. Its fame as a monster, devourer of men, is far in excess of the reality. But, for decades, it has served as an excuse for uncontrolled fishing. Their impressive appearance made them the most sought after of all fisherman’s trophies.
In reality, attacks on humans are rare and, strangely, many of the victims survive. Like these three mutilated men, who know spend their lives killing the white sharks that attacked them. The white shark possesses the curiosity of all prowlers.
We now know that the white shark only attacks men by mistake or in self-defence, when in these cloudy waters it mistakes them for its normal prey, the sea lions. It is so elusive that, in seas where there are now hardly any seals, and the white sharks eat other prey that don’t resemble man, not only are there no attacks, but people don’t even suspect they exist.
This fantastic animal is a symbol of the sea in which it lives, a sea which we are threatening, a much more deadly threat than the great white. It is relatively easy to defend the great white, but there are 350 other species of shark increasingly threatened over-fishing, with virtually no one paying any attention to their plight.
No one knows how many answers lie in these waters, but one thing is certain, in the deep, vast blue, in the salty abyss in which all these creatures live, only one is king.
Carcharodon carcharias, the white death.