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Australian Surfer's Close Call With a Great White Captured by Life Saving Drone

Drone Great White
Facebook Screenshot: Surf Life Saving NSW

Champion surfer had no idea a shark almost took a bite of his leg.

Cue the theme from "Jaws" on this one. An Australian pro surfer narrowly avoided being attacked by a five-foot great white shark during a recent trip to catch some waves at Sharpes Beach in Australia. Authorities are crediting a drone utilized by lifeguards for helping give an early warning.

Surfer Matt Wilkinson had no idea how close he came to a bite from one of the ocean's greatest predators until he was back on the shore and drone operators with New South Wales Surf Life Saving replayed the footage.

In drone footage uploaded to the agency's Facebook page, you can clearly see the shark turn and surface near Wilkinson's legs. You can see it below, it's enough to chill down the spine of anyone who has ever entered the ocean.


In a press release from Surf Life Saving, the agency explains that the drones they use to patrol for sharks have speakers to alert swimmers and surfers if the operator spots a shark in the water. The drones are part of an $8 million program that makes it easier for lifeguards to watch the waters for dangerous hazards on the beach. They are also used to assist in rescues.

In a testament to just how stealthy these ocean predators are, Wilkinson heard the drone's broadcast warning, but he never knew the large predator was just beneath him.

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

The drone's operator, Beau Monks, was on his seventh flight of the day when this incident occurred. Earlier in the day he'd spotted a ball of baitfish that may have been a factor in drawing the shark near the beach.

"It sort of came out of nowhere, then went right up to Matt. It moved pretty fast," Monks said in the press release. "It was tracking it and notified the lifeguards and used the speaker on the drone to get everyone out of the water. Within 10 seconds it was at the surfer and five seconds later it was gone."

This wasn't Wilkinson's first close call with a shark. In 2015, fellow pro surfer Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark during the J-Bay Open competition in South Africa. The incident was captured on video. Wilkinson's heat in that competition took place just before the famous Fanning attack. Wilkinson got some flashbacks to that event from this incident.

"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," Wilkinson said. "I called my wife because I didn't want her to see the footage before I saw it. She doesn't want me surfing for a couple days now."

As a precaution, authorities closed the beach for the rest of the day.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels

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Australian Surfer's Close Call With a Great White Captured by Life Saving Drone