Video shows California man steering deer back to beach as shark follows behind
A shark researcher saw an unexpected sight on Wednesday while out on a white shark field survey in Monterey Bay near Seacliff State Beach — a deer swimming in the water, and in addition to that, a shark spotted a distance from the animal.
Sean Van Sommeran of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation said he had been out on the bay photographing sharks and was sitting on the pier for a time when he saw something.
“I thought maybe it was a seabird, it caught my eyes more than once, but then I saw the big ears come up,” he told Global News. “My first thought was like, ‘Is this a giant jackrabbit?’ And then I realized what it was and motored over.”
“I think she was gasping and tired. I didn’t know how long it had actually been out there, it was just kind of going in circles.”
When he got closer, he said the deer appeared to panic, crying out, and started sinking because it wasn’t kicking its legs or going forward.
Van Sommeran then backed away to give it more room and started to try and turn it back to the shore.
Video captured his experience, showing him as he worked to guide the deer back to shore while adding that there was white shark nearby, one that he estimated to be about nine feet in length.
“I didn’t want an unsightly shark drama and the deer was going to drown,” he said in a phone interview. “I was definitely conscious of the fact the shark could bite it and I wanted to avoid that.”
While the shark was “orbiting” the deer as Van Sommeran said in the description of his YouTube video, the shark appeared more “curious” and at no point approached the deer, he added.
In his skiff, he said that while the shark made no move for the deer, he still chose to use his boat as a buffer between the two animals.
“I guess I did that instinctively in case the shark was trying to make [a move], again very unlikely, but it crossed my mind,” the shark researcher said.
He said he believes the deer ended up in the water because it was startled by people on the beach and “at least one dog.”
After some time, the deer makes its way to the beach and gets back on the shore to cheers from some of the beach-goers.
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