Drone footage captured the terrifying moment a great white shark nearly brushed up against Australian pro surfer Matt Wilkinson.
Wilkinson was paddling his board off the coast of Ballina, Australia when the shark swam up to him. While Wilkinson didn’t see the creature at first, he heard a fin or tail hit the water’s surface. The drone is a part of Australia’s shark warning system, Surf Life Saving New South Wales (NSW), and showed the shark within inches of Wilkinson’s legs. Fortunately, the predator didn’t attack him and simply swam away.
“I heard, like, the sound of its tail and I kinda looked back and I was like, ‘No, there’s nothing there.’ And I had some weird vibes and just convinced myself that it was all good, as you always do when you’re out in the surf,” Wilkinson told Nine Network television, according to the Associated Press.
The athlete didn’t see the shark until he saw the video.
“The drone came down and told me that there was a dangerous shark in the area, return to the beach,” Wilkinson told the Guardian.
Beau Monks, who piloted the drone, was terrified when he saw the incident unravel.
“I’m not entirely sure why the shark decided to turn away at the last minute,” Monks told Australian Broadcasting Corp, according to the Associated Press. “It could be something as simple as bumping into his leg rope or it might have been the drone. Marine creatures have been known to dart away when a drone does come over.”
Drones are flown across numerous beaches during the school holiday season. The drones survey the waters and warn humans when they’re in danger.
“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,” Wilkinson told The Guardian. “I’m just glad today the shark reconsidered at the last second.”
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