A WILDLIFE photographer was captured hugging a great white shark in a Facebook video that has since gone viral.
The video has left sweaty viewers in awe, with many saying their hearts were racing.
Wildlife photographer Taylor Horton was working on tagging sharks when he caught a great white shark in the wild.
In the video, he is seen touching the shark with tagging equipment, getting close enough to hug the potentially dangerous animal.
One Facebook viewer commented on the video: “This makes my heart skip a beat just watching it.”
But Horton remained unfazed by the shark’s violent abilities.
Horton’s partner, Chip Michalove, 46, spoke to the Daily Mail about the meeting.
“There was no immediate danger,” he said of Horton’s interaction with the shark.
“If that shark had a different personality or was really coiled and wired, I wouldn’t allow it [Taylor] to enter the water”.
Michalove runs Outcast Sport Fishing, a company on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, made up of charter fishermen contracted with local scientists to tag sharks.
He said the operation was less dangerous than it appeared to the average onlooker.
“Once the sharks get close to the boat, they lose all aggression – they don’t want to feed. They’re just looking to get away,” he said.
“I’m more worried about another one coming up than this one. She was very easy to work with.”
Michalove discussed Horton’s behavior around sharks.
“He’s fearless, but once you get really close to sharks you start to learn about their personality and behavior.
“You know what they’re going to do before they even know what they’re going to do.”
Facebook commenters were far less indifferent to Horton’s encounter.
One person commented on the video: “I held my breath the whole time watching this! You guys are rock stars.”
Another said: “My heart was pounding I think faster than his! What an awesome job! Someone had nerves of steel to do that.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), one of the major authorities on ocean wildlife in the US, shark attacks on humans are extremely rare.
Their site he calls sharks “opportunistic feeders” but says humans are not part of their normal diet.
“Sharks have more to fear from humans than we do from them,” the site says.