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Marine Biologists Are Offering a Rare Chance to Meet a Great White Shark

The winner of a new sweepstakes will get to accompany scientists on a five-day ocean research expedition, which will include a great white shark encounter.

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A great white shark swims by divers in a cage.
A white shark investigates a diving cage off South Africa.
Photo: Dan Kitwood (Getty Images)

This may be your best chance of meeting a great white shark that doesn’t involve dressing up like a seal and covering yourself in blood. The shark-tracking organization OCEARCH is launching a sweepstakes for a lucky winner to join the OCEARCH team on an upcoming research expedition, a trip that will inevitably feature some of the ocean’s apex predators. The sweepstakes closes September 30.

OCEARCH is a nonprofit that conducts research on sharks; a primary method of studying these creatures is by tagging them, which allows scientists (and the public) to know where the sharks are traveling and when. Besides white sharks, the organization also tags other shark species, various fish, and even some dolphins and alligators.

The organization’s open-access tagging data is a useful tool for following the lives of individual ocean animals (which are given endearing names like Ironbound, Sawtooth, and Maple), as well are for interpreting larger trends in animal migration. Trackers on the animals send data pings of their location whenever they surface.


Though OCEARCH follows a bevy of beasts, the upcoming sweepstakes will focus on white sharks (perhaps better known as great white sharks). Great white sharks are some of the ocean’s top predators; they can grow up to 20 feet long, reach speeds of 35 miles an hour, and have hundreds of serrated teeth to tear into their prey.

All of this didn’t stop some great whites from recently having their innards turned outwards by a couple of orcas off of South Africa—but for the most part, ocean animals and humans know better than to mess with these piscine torpedoes with teeth.


The OCEARCH sweepstakes information page does not state the expedition’s location, but the grand prize winner and their guest can expect a five-day, four-night trip somewhere along the southeast coast of the United States, along which many white sharks migrate.

In fact, it was this migration corridor that caused some consternation on social media last year, when members of the public thought that the number of white sharks on the coast meant a cartilaginous fish coup was imminent.

A great white shark's face.
A great white shark near South Africa.
Photo: Dan Kitwood (Getty Images)

A shark invasion was not underway, but changing ocean water temperatures are causing the sharks’ migrations to be less regular; some sharks stay in the cooler northern waters for longer, and one expert told Gizmodo at the time that the warmer temperatures can cause some sharks to stay closer to the shore.


The grand prize winner can also “meet” a shark, according to an OCEARCH release. How intimate that meeting will be is not clear, but the organization also states the grand prize trip will include the chance to tag a shark—so you’ll be pretty up close and personal.

The sweepstakes also have some smaller prizes—various bits of OCEARCH swag—but needless to say, if you’re entering the contest, you’re doing it for the shark meeting. Let’s just hope the shark heard that correctly and isn’t expecting an eating.


More: A Mysterious Arctic Shark Just Showed Up in the Caribbean