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decide to eat them. Obviously only the strongest survive at the top of the food chain. Great whites hunt 24 hours a day. They depend on constant move- ment, with oxygen-rich water passing over their gills, for survival. “Watching them swim from the cage, I realized how well their bodies are camouflaged for hunting. Viewed from above, their blue-gray top side allows them to blend in with the ocean floor. Viewed from below, their white underbelly allows them to blend with the surface water.” “Their long, pointed snouts are imbued with Ampullae of Lorenzini, which allow them to sense the electro- magnetic field of everything in their environment, including the heartbeat of their prey. They can even smell blood in the water as much as five miles away. When their pupils are fully dilated they can see prey at the surface from 600 feet below. Massive muscles and uniquely shaped tails allow them to swim straight up at speeds of 15 to 35 mph.” “On day one, I thought, hey, my surfboard’s for sale! By day three I didn’t want to get out of the water,” Laura said. “The sharks were at home. I was the intruder. It was pure adrenalin for three days, and my respect and awe grew the more I learned about the great whites.” Laura was appreciative of the onboard lectures provided by trip organizers. She learned that great whites, like whales, have distinctive markings that allow researchers to identify and track their migrations and life spans. She was also grateful that a portion of her trip fees would be donated by trip organizers to the preservation of great whites and groups fighting shark fin hunting practices, which are illegal. “One night, after a full day in the water with these massive predators, our group of divers sat on the top deck of the boat and watched “Jaws” under a sky filled with stars. I heard that Peter Benchley admitted remorse after his book led to a box-office smash that cre- ated a generation of shark haters. Today the great white is listed as a ‘vulnerable’ species, although marine biology experts worry that its fate is far less certain. “I’ve seen all kinds of sharks in my years of scuba diving, but there’s absolutely nothing like a great white. That said, I don’t feel the need to see them close up again. I’m done. Even though I’m a lover of the ocean — surfing, snorkeling or paddle boarding — I think I’ll wait awhile!” Laura Perry GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 87