Two researchers were monitoring tiger sharks off the north shore of Oahu on Jan. 15 when a giant 20-foot female great white shark swam up to their boat.
Ocean Ramsey and Juan Oliphant captured the thrilling encounter on camera as the large shark approached Ramsey.
In the video above, you can see that the shark, nicknamed Deep Blue, seems mostly harmless as Ramsey goes right up to her and grabs her fin.
"Today was extremely special because while I work with (great) white sharks all around the world, they are extremely rare in Hawaii and this individual may be one of the largest recorded," Ramsey said in a press release.
Giant great white shark thrills researchers (Photo: @JUANSHARKS/@OceanRamsey/http://ONEOCEANDIVING.COM)
Ramsey believes Deep Blue may actually be a shark she studied before in Isla Guadalupe, Mexico due to the markings she had. The seasoned researcher and conservationist says the shark was possibly trailing a sperm whale that had died recently near the shore of Oahu.
"Sharks' role in the ecosystem, to pick off the dead, dying, weak, wounded, sick, injured, etc. keeps lower trophic levels healthy and in balance," Ramsey said.
Great white sharks are classified as a vulnerable species and are rare in Hawaii because the water is too warm in comparison to the Pacific coast of California where sea lions or elephant seals are available.
The size of the shark could possibly stem from pregnancy, according to Ramsey. And despite how close she was able to get to Deep Blue, Ramsey urged in the Instagram post that the public should not recklessly jump into shark infested waters.
Ramsey runs an educational, cage-free diving program at One Ocean Diving. She hopes that her work and the attention it is receiving due to her run in with Deep Blue shows how important conservation efforts are for sharks around the world.
"We study shark behavior and we teach people how to avoid adverse interactions," Ramsey said. "Our research and work aims to help reduce shark related fatalities and educate others on the importance of sharks."
She also is an advocate for laws in Hawaii that would provide better protection for sharks and rays.
"Shark populations around Hawaii are unfortunately declining and there are currently no laws to protect sharks from being killed for any reason other than banning killing only for their fins, and even that law has many loop holes and hasn’t been upheld," Ramey said.