Great White Shark With Possible Gunshot Wound to Head Filmed off California

A great white shark with a suspected gunshot wound has been filmed swimming off the southern California coast.

The footage, captured by photographer Carlos Gauna and posted to his YouTube channel TheMalibuArtist, was filmed using a drone.

The footage shows a great white shark swimming in the shallows with what appears to be a gaping injury at the top of its head.

"When I first filmed this I wasn't sure what to make of this injury. What could it be? I sent the footage to a handful of marine biologists. While it is impossible to say definitively what caused this injury, it can be looked at from a possibility viewpoint," Gauna says, narrating the video.

Gauna says that while it may have been an injury sustained by another shark, the unique appearance of the injury suggests other causes may be more likely.

"This injury is very unique in that it doesn't have the appearance of an actual bite," Gauna says. "From the left side you can clearly see the injury has the appearance of being pried open, or struck by a foreign object. Another possibility is that this could be a boat strike....But there is another possible explanation. One that came to me from a very unlikely source."

Gauna says fishermen, who got in touch with him through Instagram, suggested it may be a gunshot wound. The fishermen shared photographs to Gauna of other gunshot wounds on sharks.

"This injury has a high possibility of being a gunshot wound. Some of the images of gunshots on sharks are so similar, I'm led to believe this may explain the scar," Gauna says.

Great white shark gunshot wound
A picture shows the great white shark with a suspected gunshot wound. It is not clear how it would have obtained the injury. Carlos Gauna/TheMalibuArtist

"There is one thing certain. This shark should be fine. Great white sharks are incredible healers and I fully expect to see this shark again some day. There is an irony in how many shark injuries I see from above along the coast, and how near humans they can be, without resulting human injury," Gauna says.

In the footage, Gauna captured footage of another great white shark swimming incredibly close to an unaware swimmer.

In the video, Gauna says he tracked the swimmer down to ask if he had seen the shark. Unsurprisingly, "he did not."

If the shark's injury is a gunshot wound, it is not clear under what circumstances it was obtained. However, great white sharks are endangered, mainly because of over hunting. People attack great white sharks for trophies, as well as their fins and teeth.

The southern California coastline is teaming with great white sharks during the warmer, summer months. Juvenile sharks are also often seen in the area. Experts suspect great white sharks may use areas of the California coastline as a nursery for their young—a protected area in shallow waters where young can learn to hunt away from other predators.

Great white shark gunshot wound
A picture shows the great white shark from above. The wound appears to have been struck by a foreign object. Carlos Gauna/TheMalibuArtist