When you’re a professional surfer, you know that at some stage in your career, you’re going to have a close brush with a shark.
Spending that much time in the water makes it almost inevitable, and you just hope that your experience is more like that of Matt Wilkinson, and less like that of Mick Fanning.
In Wilkinson’s case, drone footage captured yesterday off Ballina in New South Wales, Australia, shows a great white shark getting up close and personal just off Sharpes Beach.
Here’s the Guardian:
“I heard a splash and a noise and looked around and couldn’t see anything,” Wilkinson said, according to a statement from Surf Life Saving NSW.
Surf lifesavers were operating a drone overhead and were able to broadcast a warning from the aircraft’s speakers.
“The drone came down and told me that there was a dangerous shark in the area, return to the beach,” Wilkinson said.
“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.”
This isn’t the first time a drone in New South Wales has warned people about the presence of a shark. In September of last year, a similar drone was employed off the coast of Werri Beach.
Here’s the footage of Wilkinson and the shark:
Wilkinson went on to say that he’s “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”.
The great white shark was estimated to be around 2,5 metres in length, making it around half the size of Nukumi, that beaut tagged off the coast of Canada.
Beau Monks, who was operating the drone, gave his side of the story:
“It sort of came out of nowhere, then went right up to Matt. It moved pretty fast. I was tracking it and notified the lifeguards and used the speaker on the drone to get everyone out of the water,” he said.
“Within 10 seconds it was at the surfer and five seconds later it was gone”…
“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,” he said.
I don’t think Wilkinson minds what made the shark peel away from him.
He added that his wife doesn’t want to see him surfing “for a couple of days now”.
Work’s work, mate – gotta get back out there sooner or later.
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