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February 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 34, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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A Huge Great White Shark Controversy

what’s the difference between advocacy and self-promotion?

from the February, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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An online hubbub has erupted about images posted of a huge great white shark that had been seen feeding on the carcass of a dead whale off the Hawaiian island of Oahu last month. Is it the same giant shark seen and photographed at Mexico's Guadalupe Island? And was Ocean Ramsey (the real name of a woman who is both a marine biologist and underwater model) right to swim with it, touch it, and use the photos as a tool for self-promotion?

The Controversial Photo (by Juan Oliphant)Those who first spotted the shark in Hawaii initially thought it to be "Deep Blue," a giant female shark so named by those who saw it through the bars of a shark cage diving experience at Mexico's Guadalupe Island in 2013. At 50 years or so of age and 20 feet in length, Deep Blue was one of the biggest sharks ever caught on camera. She became such a celebrity shark, she even has her own Twitter account. (Goodness knows what keeps the water out of her phone.) So, had Deep Blue moved over to Hawaii's cooler waters?

On January 13, a behemoth was spotted feeding on a decaying sperm whale carcass about 20 miles off Oahu's north shore. Some thought the animal was pregnant, while others wondered if it was simply an animal full of dead whale. Was it Deep Blue? Comparing photographs taken of her at Guadalupe and the shark in Hawaii, some experts believe them to be two entirely different female sharks, and the Hawaiian one is now named "Haole Girl." But that's just the start of the conversation....

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