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Blue Water, White Death (1971)

Documentary focusing on great white sharks.


Peter Gimbel

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Credited cast:
Tom Chapin Tom Chapin ... Himself
Phil Clarkson Phil Clarkson ... Himself
Stuart Cody Stuart Cody ... Himself (as Stuart R. Cody)
Peter Lake ... Himself (as Peter A. Lake)
Peter Matthiessen Peter Matthiessen ... Himself
Rodney Fox Rodney Fox ... Himself
Valerie Taylor Valerie Taylor ... Herself (as Valerie May Taylor)
Ron Taylor Ron Taylor ... Himself
Stan Waterman Stan Waterman ... Himself (as Stanton A. Waterman)
Peter Gimbel Peter Gimbel ... Himself
James Lipscomb James Lipscomb ... Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Rodney Jonklaas Rodney Jonklaas ... Himself
Wally King Wally King ... Narrator


Peter Gimbel and a team of photographers set out on an expedition to find and Film, for the very first time, Carcharodon carcharias....The Great White Shark. The Expedition took over nine months and traveled from Durban, South Africa, across the Indian Ocean and finally to South Australia. Written by Alex "The Sharkman" Buttigieg <sharkman@sharkmans-world.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Most Frightening and Fascinating Sea Adventure Ever. See more »




G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

1 June 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Agua azul, muerte blanca See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of the few documentaries shot in the wide screen 2.35:1 format. See more »


Peter Gimbel: Now I want to tell you very quickly, what we're trying to do off Durban. We're looking for the animal that I think is considered to be the most dangerous predator still living in the world - the Great White Shark - which attacks the carcasses of killed whales in the Indian Ocean on the whaling grounds off here and, in the last ten days has taken five Sperm Whales over forty feet in length and removed from them all the meat down to the spine in a matter of six or seven hours.
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Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #26.74 (2009) See more »


Songs of the Humpback Whale
Recording by Roger Payne and Frank Watlington
Arrangement by John Maddox
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User Reviews

Dated, Overlong Shark Documentary
4 January 2012 | by TheExpatriate700See all my reviews

Blue Water, White Death is largely remembered as being the first film to feature great white sharks on screen. Although it has some great footage, time has not treated this documentary well.

The main problem with the film is that it drags on for entirely too long. In an attempt to emulate verite film makers, the movie incorporates several scenes of the divers and ship crew doing not much of anything. These include people arguing over how to rig the cameras and musical interludes featuring a folk singer who joined the crew. The film could easily have cut out twenty minutes or more.

Another factor dating the film is the depiction of whaling without any real commentary on its environmental impact. The divers accompany a whaling company hunting sperm whales so that they can watch sharks feed on a carcass. Viewers are treated to such inspirational sights as a harpoon being fired from the harpooner's perspective, and whales bleeding out from their wounds. The only objection to this that we hear is one diver commenting that the whales will be wiped out if humans keep hunting them.

Furthermore, the film focuses too much on the hunt for the great white, as it takes the film makers the better part of a year to find a white. This comes across as particularly tedious in our modern age of Shark Week, when a simple flip through the dials can find a documentary about great white.

For all these flaws, the last ten to fifteen minutes of the film, focusing on the divers' encounter with great whites, are truly exhilarating. Even today, their footage is a chilling document of the power of these sharks.

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