A huge bite mark on a great white shark photographed off the coast of Mexico is leaving many wondering what creature was big enough to leave scars on the back of one of the ocean's greatest predators.
In 2019, Jalil Najafov, a photographer, filmmaker and shark conservationist, was exploring the coastal waters of Mexico with friends when the group spotted a great white shark swimming near their boat. As the group gathered to watch the shark, they noted the massive bite mark on the shark's side.
Mr Najafov told CNN Travel that after seeing the bite, he grabbed his GoPro and leapt into water to get a better shot of the shark.
Unfortunately Mr Najafov misplaced his memory card after his trip, and only recently recovered the photos. He shared them recently on his Instagram account last month.
"I have been working with sharks and shark content for many years, I have a lot of experience in this niche," Mr Najafov said. "I know for sure when I see something rare, I have never seen such a huge shark scar."
Commenters on the photo became fascinated with the bite and offered their own theories. Those ranged from the shark having a battle with an Orca whale to jokes about the shark running afoul of a Megalodon, an ancient, enormous shark species that lived millions of years ago.
Mr Najafov was also curious about the bite, so before he posted the image he consulted experts to offer their perspectives on the scar.
Dr Tristan Guttridge, who heads the marine nonprofit Saving the Blue, told Mr Najafov that he did not believe the bite was the result of mating activity.
The expert believes that the shark was most likely attacked by another shark.
Another shark expert friend of Mr Najafov's, Michael Domeier, heads the Marine Conservation Science Institute, and agreed with Mr Guttridge's conclusion.
He said he was "confident this is competitive aggression," suggesting the shark had been attacked by another shark.
While both sharks and the massive bite may play into fears that many have about both the animals and the ocean in general, Mr Najafov said he was not afraid to dive among the animals.
"I love sharks and I absolutely enjoy them while diving," he said. "Sharks are not monsters!"
As a conservationist and researcher, Mr Najafov hopes his work will help to tear down misconceptions about sharks.
"The oceans are home to about 500 different shark species, but about a dozen of them are known to be potentially dangerous to humans," he said.
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