Professional surfer Matt Wilkinson had a close encounter with a shark while surfing near Ballina, New South Wales, on Wednesday, October 7.
A Surf Life Saving NSW drone alerted Wilkinson with a recorded message as the shark circled near him off Sharpes Beach.
“I was surfing out the back at Sharpes Beach and just cruising on my own and I heard a splash and a noise and looked around and couldn’t see anything,” said Wilkinson. “Then the drone came down and told me that there was a dangerous shark in the area, return to the beach.
“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," he added.
The beach was closed after the incident.
Drone operator Beau Monks said he’d just launched his seventh drone flight of the day when he spotted the shark near Wilkinson.
“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. Within 10 seconds it was at the surfer and five seconds later it was gone,” said Beau Monks.
Surf Life Saving NSW operates drones at 34 beaches across New South Wales. Credit: Surf Life Saving NSW via Storyful