The mission was to record marine life found feeding on a sperm whale carcass floating near Oahu. What the divers and photographers experienced was among the most incredible shark encounters ever documented.
There, in the warm waters off Hawai’i were three female great white sharks, including the most famous shark this side of Jaws. “Deep Blue”, an elusive shark which is estimated to be more than 20 feet long and weighing more than two tons, was spotted after a six-year absence; the last time scientists saw her was two years ago swimming off Mexico’s Guadalupe Island.
And who better to comment on the immense shark than Dr. Chris Lowe, director of the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach. Lowe is part of a National Geographic documentary called, “World’s Biggest Great White”, that premieres Saturday as part of Sharks @ The Beach and College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Open House.
The documentary is part of Nat Geo and Nat Geo Wild’s Sharkfest, three weeks of shark programming that launched July 14 on Nat Geo channel. The final two weeks, including the “World’s Biggest Great White” documentary starts this Sunday on Nat Geo Wild.
Lowe was not part of the diving expedition that spotted Deep Blue, but offers his experience in working on white sharks off California and Mexico. He said it qualified him “as someone who could speak about the general behavior and ecology of white sharks in the Pacific.”
“There are others equally or even better qualified as myself, so I was a little surprised they would ask me,” Lowe added.
In addition to hosting the premiere, Lowe will take part in a moderated panel; the Shark and Marine labs will be open for tours during Sharks @ The Beach. Attendees also can learn beach safety tips at a Shark Shack and teachers can take part in a Shark Jaw Curriculum.
Last year, Lowe received 5,000 shark jaws from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and is distributing them for educational purposes.
“The primary goal (of Sharks @ The Beach) is to share what we’ve learned using science to educate the public about sharks and other beach safety issues,” Lowe said.
“By providing a variety of educational platforms we can better meet the needs of Californians and those who visit California.”
The CNSM Open House also will feature several exhibits from the Mammal Lab, math challenges, science experiments and information on earthquakes, floods and tsunamis.
Parking for the free event will be available in Lots E7, E8, E9, E10, E11 and General lots. Permits are $10 at the pay stations.