Incredible Video of Scar-covered Great White Shark Goes Viral

Footage has surfaced of a great white covered in scars, showing the 9.8-foot fish with dozens of huge gashes across its body.

The video was taken by Dean Spraakman of Sea Dragon Films, who was diving off the Neptune Islands, Australia. The film was originally uploaded in January, but recently went viral on several subreddits.

You can watch the video on Sea Dragon Films YouTube channel here.

What caused the injuries to the male shark is unknown. However, as they mostly appear to be concentrated on one side of the shark's body, Spraakman suggests it may have been hit by a boat.

"He is a beautiful shark that has survived some tough times," he wrote in a comment on his YouTube post. "I feel the best guess as to what has happened to him so far is either a large boat propeller incident, or caught in a large tuna pen which apparently can be a common occurrence."

However, Spraakman also said the injuries appear to have been inflicted at different times. "I did notice during some of his close passes while filming that there seemed to be old, new and newer scars that are similar," he said.

"Unfortunately I doubt we will ever know for sure what has caused these wounds. One other consensus is some of the scars are from scraping on the reef, and possibly involved in predation on animals like stingrays.

"They are certainly not from Orca or mating," he said, referring to the recent killer whale attacks on great whites off the coast of South Africa.

great white shark scars
The scar-covered great white shark filmed off the cost of Australia's Neptune Islands in January. Dean Spraakman/Sea Dragon Films

In an email to Newsweek, Spraakman said that many people suggested the wounds could be the result of mating, but he finds this idea unlikely.

"My personal thoughts after discussing with some other shark experts, like Andrew Fox from the Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions, is that these white sharks are often seen tracking stingrays in the area, [and] we think perhaps he has chased a stingray into some shallow rocky reef and become stuck and had to fight his way out of it. Perhaps this is a common behaviour for this shark," he said. "But as I mentioned, no one will really ever know what has caused this."

It is thought great white sharks can live to be about 70 years. Females are generally larger than males and can reach around 20 feet in length.

The IUCN Red List considers white sharks a threatened species. The global population of white sharks is unknown, although estimates put the total figure in the low thousands.

In 2020, a study published in Science Advances found white sharks are one of the species that could go extinct in the next 100 years, with it being one of the species facing the biggest threats from human activities, including climate change and fishing.

The Neptune Islands Conservation Park is a hotspot for great whites, which use the area to hunt seals. The islands are a breeding ground for fur seals and are home to Australia's largest colony—half of Australia's entire breeding population.

Male great whites, measuring up to 16 feet in length, live in the waters off the Neptune Islands all year round. Females arrive at the site between April and August, when the seal pups start entering the water.

Spraakman said he has not seen the scar-covered shark since his January encounter: "These beautiful animals are pelagic and do not generally stay in one place for long."

He said that to his knowledge, no one has ever seen a shark "this beaten up" before, and the footage highlights just how vulnerable great whites are.

"I think they are very prone to injury being an apex predator, the weak will not survive long in the wild," Spraakman said.

"However this shark seemed calm, curious and quite friendly from the interactions we had with him. They often want to come close to make eye contact and make that connection to have a good look at you. Hopefully he is still going well and out there somewhere."