Two Solitary Great White Sharks Interacting With One Another Captured in Incredible Drone Footage

Researchers have captured fascinating footage of two great white sharks—usually solitary animals—interacting with each other in an unusual display.

The drone video shows one individual approach another in the waters off Chatham—a town located on the southeastern tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The two animals then engage in a brief interaction lasting just a few seconds before they go their separate ways.

The non-profit Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC) tweeted: "FIRST FOOTAGE EVER! Drone footage of an interaction between two white sharks off the coast of Chatham yesterday, taken by Nate Jensen. Our local shark science team is hoping to see the high res version to learn more about the interaction."

Although the interaction is brief, scientists are hoping that studying the video may provide new insights into the behavior of these intriguing animals.

"Based on scarring patterns and wounds, we know that white sharks off Cape Cod frequently bite each other," Greg Skomal from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) told Newsweek.

"However, until this video was shot, we had never actually witnessed any kind of social interaction. The video shows a smaller white shark approach and make contact with a larger white shark, which quickly left the area," he said. "We are now examining the video more closely to determine if this was aggressive and/or defensive behavior or, perhaps, associated with mating."

AWSC's mission is to augment scientific research into great white sharks and raise awareness of the species while helping conservation efforts.

Since 2013, the non-profit has provided funding and resources to DMF biologists to tag and track great whites in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean.

In fact, the non-profit tweeted yesterday that they had helped Skomal to successfully tag three white sharks—two off Nauset Beach and one off Chatham. The researchers also say that they witnessed two predation events off Monomoy Island that same day.

Looking forward, researchers with the DMF and AWSC will investigate the movement and behavior of the sharks, with a particular focus on public safety, for several studies set to be conducted over the next five years.

This kind of information is crucial to the development of strategies that will help to mitigate the increased risk of shark-human conflict in the area.

Great white sharks face a number of threats including fishing and other human activities, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On top of that, they are slow to reproduce, as with most shark species. As a result, the shark is listed globally as "Vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is protected by federal laws in the U.S.

Nevertheless, great white sightings have increased in the Northwest Atlantic region over the last 10 years or so, according to the AWSC. At Cape Cod, scientists have explained this uptick in numbers with an increase in the local gray seal population—a favorite food source.

This article was updated to include additional comments from Greg Skomal.

Cape Cod
Waves break on Lighthouse Beach on Cape Cod in Chatham, Massachusetts, close to where researchers spotted two great white sharks interacting with each other. Mario Tama/Getty Images
Two Solitary Great White Sharks Interacting With One Another Captured in Incredible Drone Footage | Tech & Science