3 Large Sharks Lurk Feet Away From Unaware Swimmers

When a British man using a drone camera spotted three large sharks coming dangerously close to swimmers near an Australian beach, he not only caught the chilling moment on video, he was able to spread word to lifeguards on the shore, potentially preventing a deadly confrontation.

David Alphonso told The Daily Mail that he was having a beach day with his family—wife, two-year-old son, father, and brother—at Australia's Meelup Beach. He and his brother strolled away from the group to launch Alphonso's drone from a good vantage point. They were watching the footage on an iPad when they saw a shark just feet away, approaching the beach. Read on to find out what happened next. 

1

"It Was Swimming Towards Swimmers"

"Within 30 seconds, I noticed a shark straightway in the shallows," Alphonso told The Daily Mail. "It was about two to three meters from the shore, where it was really shallow, and it was swimming towards swimmers. The next beach along had hundreds of people because it was the summer holidays for the Christmas break."

He said the shark looked to be about six feet long and he quickly Facetimed his wife to raise the alarm. "I told her, 'You better go get the lifeguard, there's a shark hanging around the swimmers,'" he said.

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Directed Lifeguard to Shark's Location

Alphonso showed the lifeguard the drone footage of the shark via Facetime. The guard ordered swimmers to leave the water and headed out on a jetski to take a closer look. Alphonso used the drone to guide him to the shark's location. "I flew the drone around the corner to where he launched the jetski so he could follow me," Alphonso told The Daily Mail.

"He followed the drone around the headland and I went up and down with the drone when I saw the shark. In the footage you can see him pointing to the shark. He must've thought it was serious enough to call the helicopter, it was there 15 minutes later and sounded the shark alarm."

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Two More Sharks Spotted

The beach was closed for about four hours while beachgoers waited for the shark to swim away. But during that time, Alphonso said he saw two other sharks floating around and one approach the beach. "It was about half a kilometer [540 yards] from the beach, so I called the lifeguard again to warn him,' he said. "They've got a bit of a resident great white [shark] hanging around there at the moment."

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"I Love Sharks"

A dedicated wildlife videographer who regularly posts his images of marine life—including sharks—on his Instagram page, Alfonso was glad the beach was evacuated but urged against panic. It's unlikely the sharks intended to harm swimmers, he said. "I love sharks. I think it's unfair they're so vilified," he said. "They can be scary, but there's such a small chance they pose any real danger. They're an essential and important part of our ecosystem. We shouldn't be vilifying them." 

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What's Behind Increased Shark Sightings?

More shark sightings, closer to shore, are being reported around the world. A study released this summer found that sharks near Florida are swimming closer to humans, desensitized to the light of urban areas and drawn to fish carcasses discarded by industry. Improving water quality, rising water temperatures due to climate change, and the resurgence of bunker (a type of fish water-dwelling predators feed on) may also be responsible. But experts say we might see more reports about shark sightings not because there are more of them. It's just that more people are taking video with drones and posting their sightings to social media.