A frightening video showed a tiger shark lurking dangerously close to swimmers at an Australian beach, just days after Christmas. The tiger shark was spotted near Hillary's Dog Beach in Perth, Western Australia. On Dec. 28, a drone captured a tiger shark swimming near the shore in glassine waters, within feet of beachgoers enjoying a dip. At one point, the shark can be seen swimming directly toward one woman before it veers away within feet of making contact. The swimmers had no idea they were in peril until the man operating the drone ran to the shoreline and warned them. Read on to find out what happened and why these types of sightings may be more common.
"Stunned" To See How Close Shark Came
"I was worried that this could be an attack, and obviously, I was quite scared," Sam Wood, who captured the drone video, told News 7 Australia. After spotting the shark in shallow water within feet of swimmers, he ran down to the beach. It was quickly evacuated, and no one was injured. Wood showed his footage to the woman who came so close to the tiger shark. "Once I showed her, she was quite stunned," he said. "She had no idea how close it had gotten. She had no idea; she didn't even see it."
Year of the Shark?
Tiger sharks are generally uninterested in humans, and so was this one, turning back after getting close to shore. "This one swam away, which is always good to see," said Wood. In the past week, there have been 50 shark spottings near Western Australia's coastline alone, 7 News reported. Shark sightings are hardly isolated to the Southern Hemisphere—last summer, an increased number of shark sightings and attacks were reported along the U.S. coastline, from New York to Florida. Experts advise that if you spot a shark, exit the water as quickly and calmly as possible.
What's Behind It?
Experts told 7 News that we might see more reports about shark sightings not because there are more of them but because more people are taking videos with drones—still a relatively new technology—and posting their sightings to social media.
Study: Sharks Getting Closer to Shore
More shark sightings, closer to shore, are being reported around the world. A recent study 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.
Social Media Responds
Many Western Australians are not shocked by the sighting, voicing their reaction on News 7's Facebook page. "Over a six-month time period, I've seen six sharks … Now I just don't swim anymore," said one. "No surprise to me. I've seen stuff like this in life. I've seen rays and sharks over 5 ft come within 2 ft of swimmers in waist-deep water and not have a clue," said another. A third added: "I was under the impression that western Australian waters were full of sharks and ones that like the shallows. I love the coastline there but I wouldn't go swimming."