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'Curious' Great White Shark Gets Up Close And Personal With Australian Filmmaker Dave Riggs

05/11/2015 02:19 am ET | Updated May 11, 2015

A terrifying photo of a great white shark, mouth open and just inches from a photographer's hands, isn't what it seems to be.

"Basically it's a very curious great white shark," Australian filmmaker Dave Riggs told ABC Goldfields-Esperance. "She was around 15 foot long, and wasn't being aggressive, believe it or not, but certainly looks like it in that image. But that's how they assess their surroundings."

Riggs was filming material for a Discovery Channel documentary off Australia's Neptune Islands when the female shark came up for what he called a "sniff."

This is how a great white "sniffs" .. it looks frightening but this .. it really is .. the last dinosaur .. WE MUST PROTECT this magnificent creature!!!! Photo by Luke Thom for Discovery Shark Week

The dramatic photo was snapped by crew member Luke Thom, who was in the boat about three feet behind Riggs, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Riggs told ABC the sharks in that area, which is popular among tourists hoping to see great whites, will check out any boat that comes around.

"I just felt obliged to post it I guess, because it's real," Riggs told the network. "It's not being aggressive, it was not attempting to kill anyone, it was just very curious."

It's a curiosity the sharks satisfy with their mouths, Riggs explained in a promotional clip released by Discovery.

"Great whites don't have hands, so she was researching the area in the only way she knows how -– and that's with her mouth," he said.

But what a terrifying mouth it is.

Shark Week kicks off on July 5.

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