It takes extreme courage to cage dive with great white sharks, but attempting to trick them is inherently suicidal.
But amazingly, that’s what a brave French inventor did when he made the world’s first (and so far only) great white shark submarine.
In 2004, oceanographer Fabien Cousteau was approached to make a new documentary about sharks and came across a terrifying idea he says was inspired by a shark-shaped submarine in a Tintin cartoon.
Speaking to The New York Times at the time, he said: “When I thought about it, I thought it was a really good idea.
“I wanted to shoot these sharks without any of the artificial stimuli.
“Normally, shark behavior is affected by sighting attempts, with shark cages and shark cages leading to images of aggressive open-mouthed sharks that do not represent their natural behavior.”
Fabien set out to make his dream come true and designed a truly scary submersible which he nicknamed Troy.
No attention to detail on Troy has been spared, even down to his skin which has been cut with sand and glass to have the rough texture of sharkskin.
Measuring 14 feet long and tipping the scales at 1,200 pounds, the fiberglass shark looked truly terrifying and was remarkably piloted from the inside.
Inside the belly of the beast, Cousteau in full scuba gear was able to control Troy’s movements and glide among the ocean’s deadliest killers.
And remarkably, they were none the wiser.
After a few cautious moments at the start of the dive where the sharks were disturbed by the sight of Troy, they quickly acclimatized to its presence.
Consistent with how sharks behave around each other, the massive great white sharks stayed about 8 meters from Troy at all times and avoided it if their routes matched.
Due to Troy’s immense size, it is believed that the shark viewed the submarine as a dominant female, meaning it was likely afraid to interact with it.
While Cousteau was inside Troy, he was able to see what was in front of him with a camera that fed live video to a monitor in front of him.
He says the images the team obtained showed the world for the first time that great white sharks weren’t the ruthless killing machines they described.
However, despite Troy’s success, the £200,000 price tag for its creation means it remains the first and only Great White Submarine.
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