Great White Shark Dies After Getting Stuck in Diving Cage for 25 Minutes, Distressing Video Shows

Footage showing a great white shark dying after getting trapped in a cage has been released, with the clip showing the animal struggling to free itself before its lifeless body sinks to the bottom of the sea.

The video, taken off Guadalupe Island, off the west coast of the Mexican state of Baja California, was released by Arturo Islas Allende, who describes himself as an environmentalist, actor, diver and entrepreneur. He posted the film to several social media sites, claiming he was compelled to do so because the company involved, Nautilus Dive Adventures, had failed to meet safety standards. He claims the shark died because of negligence.

According to Islas Allende, the bait was being used incorrectly and the window in the cage was too large. As a result, the shark's head became trapped. The footage shows the shark struggling, with its neck getting cut in the process. Islas Allende says this went on for about 25 minutes before the shark died, at which point it floated away, sinking down into the sea.

Islas Allende says Nautilus Dive Adventures and Mexico's National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (CONANP) had initially said the shark swam away after the encounter. He said he was releasing the video to show this was not the case.

In a statement posted to its Facebook page, Nautilus Dive Adventures said: "There was an incident with a great white shark repeatedly charging one of our cages at Guadalupe Island in October towards the end of our 2019 season. We were horrified, very sad, upset and worried for both the shark and our divers. We stage approximately 50,000 white shark dives every year and have been running these trips since 2003.

"Our cages are in full compliance with all Mexican regulations. Never in all our experience have we seen a shark exhibit this behaviour. We own this. When the incident happened, we immediately notified the authorities, sent them video of the event and launched an immediate review and root cause analysis."

The company said their cages are "being modified to do our best to prevent this from ever happening again." Nautilus also said it is encouraging other tour operators with shark boats "to to learn from this terrible incident and modify their cages as well."

In a statement emailed to Newsweek, Captain Mike Lever, owner and founder of Nautius said they love and respect the sharks of Guadalupe Island and do their best to protect them. "We never want to see any shark—or any human—ever get injured. But sometimes something really bad happens and catches everyone by surprise."

It said there has been a huge increase in the number of sharks at the island, with more juveniles and young adults than ever before. "Within the last four years, our identification count has increased from 150 to more than 350 animals. More sharks means new and different behavior," the statement said.

"We support and are participating in a thoughtful analysis of recent shark accidents and consultation and promulgation of revised regulations regarding shark cages. Perhaps the openings in the cages need to be a bit smaller. Or perhaps there needs to be 'mesh' covering the openings with some sort of camera port or maybe the cages should be clear acrylic. We encourage as many ideas as possible. Ultimately we all want the same thing which is that no shark ever gets injured - or worse—at Guadalupe Island.

"Wildlife observation, be it lions, bears or sharks, has inherited risks. This activity on land would be equivalent to a safari where if a Lion or elephant in an extreme case attacks a vehicle it is gunned down and no one will complaint. The cage is like the safari car. This was an accident. Nobody knows if this shark survived or died. It's impossible to know and irresponsible for anyone to assert that 'they know.' The vertical distance between the horizontal bars in the cage were in compliance with park regulations.

"There was no cover up. We simply don't see the need to self-flagellate in public."

CONANP also confirmed the "incident" in a statement on December 7. It said the 11-foot shark became trapped between the bars of the cage. The organization said sharks gather at Guadalupe between July and December every year. In this case, the shark collided with one of the cages and got stuck, they said. CONANP added the spacing between bars of cages must not exceed 13.7 inches and that apparatus must be modified accordingly.

"CONAN ... reiterates its commitment that the activity of white shark observation is carried out with good practices and in accordance with the principles of sustainable tourism, for the benefit of ecosystems, species and society," the statement said.

This article has been updated to include additional statements from Nautilus Dive Adventures.

great white shark
Representative image showing a great white shark. iStock