Two shark researchers who came face to face with what could be one of the largest great whites ever recorded are using their encounter as an opportunity to push for legislation that would protect sharks in Hawaii. Ocean Ramsey, a shark researcher and conservationist, told the AP that she encountered the 20-foot shark Tuesday near a dead sperm whale off Oahu. The event was documented and shared on social media by her fiancé and business partner Juan Oliphant. (See video.) The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources said it was aware of photos of the great white and that tiger sharks also have been feeding on the whale. Oliphant, who photographed the now-viral images, said it's unclear if the shark is the famed Deep Blue, believed to be the largest great white ever recorded.
"She looks the part right now," Oliphant said about the shark spotted Tuesday. "Maybe even more exciting that there is another massive, you know, super-size great white shark out there. Because their populations are so dwindling." Ramsey, who operates Oahu-based One Ocean Diving and Research with Oliphant, said she has been pushing for several years for a bill that would ban the killing of sharks and rays in Hawaii, and hopes this year the measure will become law. She said the images of her swimming next to a huge great white shark prove the predators should be protected, not feared. Still, the veteran shark diver doesn't think the general public should recklessly get into the water with the giants, especially around a food source like a rotting whale carcass. (And here's a shark-related earworm.)