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These Divers Swam With A Giant Great White Shark And It's Jaw-Dropping

It was nothing like Jaws.

Last updated on January 18, 2019, at 1:41 p.m. ET

Posted on January 17, 2019, at 11:45 p.m. ET

A group of divers had a rare experience when they recently swam with the largest-known great white shark in waters off of Hawaii.

Instagram: @juansharks

Some of the freedivers even TOUCHED the great white.

Instagram: @juansharks

This shark is known as Deep Blue and is believed to be the largest great white shark ever filmed.

In 2014, the Discovery TV series Shark Week declared the 20-foot-long Deep Blue one of the biggest great whites ever caught on camera. The shark went viral the next year after it was filmed in waters near Mexico and has had its own Twitter account ever since.
JuanSharks/@OceanRamsey/Juan Oliphant/oneoceandiving.com / Via Reuters

In 2014, the Discovery TV series Shark Week declared the 20-foot-long Deep Blue one of the biggest great whites ever caught on camera. The shark went viral the next year after it was filmed in waters near Mexico and has had its own Twitter account ever since.

Tuesday's swim was particularly unusual since white sharks tend to avoid Hawaii, as they prefer colder waters.

Ocean Ramsey, a marine biologist and shark activist who started One Ocean Diving, wrote on Instagram that she had heard that a group of sharks had gathered around a sperm whale carcass to feed.
uanSharks/@OceanRamsey/Juan Oliphant/oneoceandiving.com / Via Reuters

Ocean Ramsey, a marine biologist and shark activist who started One Ocean Diving, wrote on Instagram that she had heard that a group of sharks had gathered around a sperm whale carcass to feed.

Footage showed the whale carcass being towed from the shoreline as it was followed by sharks.

Instagram: @honoluluoceansafety

Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources was tasked with moving the decomposing whale carcass away from the shore and reported that people were "climbing on top of the carcass and removing its teeth" for the ivory.

One Ocean Diving headed to see the sharks gathered around the whale carcass, and that's when Deep Blue brushed up against their boat, introducing herself.

Instagram: @oneoceanconservation

Ramsey speculated that Deep Blue was itching her pregnant-looking belly when she rubbed up on the boat.

Instagram: @oceanramsey

The shark was also "shockingly wide," she told the Honolulu Star Advertiser. BuzzFeed News reached out to Ramsey for comment but did not immediately hear back.

Deep Blue was being escorted by rough-toothed dolphins when Ramsey encountered the shark.

Instagram: @oceanramsey

She described Deep Blue as a "gorgeous gentle giant."

This video shows humanโ€“shark contact, which is WOW.

Instagram: @oceanramsey

"I waited quietly, patiently, observing as she swam up to the dead sperm whale carcass and then slowly to me passing close enough I gently put my hand out to maintain a small space so her girth could pass," Ramsey wrote about the experience.

"I know some people criticize touch but what some donโ€™t realize is that sometimes sharks seek touch, she swam away escorted by two rough-toothed dolphins who danced around her over to one of my One Ocean Diving shark research vessels and proceeded to use it as a scratching post, passing up feeding for another need."

Ramsey also wrote a disclaimer saying that while Deep Blue is "mellow," people without experience should not do this.

In another video, Kayleigh Nicole Burns, a diver with One Ocean, also touches the great white.

Instagram: @mermaid_kayleigh

"It still feels like a dream," Burns wrote. "This might sound like a nightmare to some, but Iโ€™m hoping my videos showing the slow grace and beauty of this animal are enough to combat the fear instilled in us from the media demonizing of sharks."

This video shows a freediver touching and redirecting Deep Blue, and it is both terrifying and amazing.

Instagram: @forrest

Ramsey advocates for shark conservation, writing that the animals have a bad reputation because "of the negative and inaccurate way they are portrayed in mass media."

Instagram: @oceanramsey

Instead, Ramsey contends that humans are the great killers โ€” as tens of thousands of sharks are killed every year for shark fin soup and fishing.

But some marine biologists criticized Ramsey and her crew for touching the great white.

Instagram: @doc_domeier

Michael Domeier, a marine biologist that started a nonprofit focused on using research to help marine life, said it was unethical to ride white sharks.

"Take a look at this video and see if you feel her words are consistent with her actions," Domeier wrote in a post on Instagram. "Posting selfies with white sharks is really the wrong message..these are very dangerous animals. Yes, in this case they were very satiated and unlikely to bite...but the average person should not be hopping in the water with them."

Domeier also disputed the identification of the shark as Deep Blue.

"Itโ€™s a newly discovered shark that has been named Haole Girl by the diver that first reported her to us," said Domeier.

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