Drone captures pro surfer’s close encounter with shark

Posted by Kyro Mitchell on 9 October 2020

Matt Wilkinson, a professional surfer from Sydney, Australia came into close contact with a great white while surfing just off the coast of Ballina in northern New South Wales. He managed to get out of the shark’s way with help from an overhead drone.

In the video, which has since gone viral on social media, you can see Wilkinson casually paddling on his surfboard when a shadow below the water appears.

The shark, which is presumably a great white, measures around 2.5 metres in length. The marine animal makes a beeline towards Wilkinson’s feet before changing direction at the last second.

Take a look at the close encounter below: 

Wilkinson claims in an interview with Surf Life Saving NSW that he ‘heard a splash and a noise’ while surfing, but did not see anything when he turned around to investigate. He was then notified about the shark through a speaker attached to a drone, which warned him to return to the shore as there was a shark in the waters, according to reports from The Independent.

‘I got to the shore feeling a bit weird and the lifeguards showed me the footage and I realised how close it came without knowing it was there. It looks like it’s going for my leg and it’s changed its mind,’ Wilkinson said.

‘I’ve been surfing with sharks my whole life and I understand they’re there and know enough about them to know they have not too much interest in humans. I’m just glad today the shark reconsidered at the last second,’ added Wilkinson.

Unsurprisingly, Wilkinson saw similarities between his close encounter and that of Mick Fanning’s 2015 shark attack in South Africa; ‘When I saw the footage I saw the similarities, like, I had a yellow leg rope on and Mick’s board was yellow is what I was thinking about when I came in’.

The implementation of drones to keep swimmers safe is becoming common a sight on beaches around the world. Not only are they cost-effective but the speed at which they can they speedily notify beach goers of potential danger.

Beau Monks, the person operating the drone in this instance believes the drone itself played a huge part in scaring off the shark, telling ABC- ‘I’m not entirely sure why the shark decided to turn away at the last minute. It could have been something as simple as just bumping into his leg rope, or it might have been the drone. Marine creatures have been known to dart away when the drone does come over.’

Picture: Screenshot from video



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