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Shark stalks pro surfer as drone films from above

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

A circling shark has been filmed as it zoned-in on the feet of professional surfer Matt Wilkinson, with the predator diverting away at the last moment.

A circling shark has been filmed as it zeroed-in on the feet of professional surfer Matt Wilkinson, with the predator diverting away at the last moment.

The close encounter happened at Sharpes Beach at Ballina in today and was filmed by the Surf Life Saving NSW UAV.

Wilkinson was paddling behind the breakers when the dark shadow of the shark, which appears to be about 2m in length, starts darting towards him.

"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," Wilkinson said.

"Then the drone came down and told me that there was a dangerous shark in the area, return to the beach.

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A UAV filmed as Matt Wilkinson was stalked by a shark

"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.

"I feel grateful and pretty weird at the same time but happy it decided not to go me. 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.

"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 of days now."

The beach was evacuated and will be closed until tomorrow.

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There have been multiple shark sightings up and down the north coast of NSW in the past few days, with a dead whale attracting great whites.

Wilkinson was surfing at the J-Bay competition in South Africa in 2015 when friend and three-time World Champion Mick Fanning was knocked off his board by a great white shark.

Wilkinson surfed the heat prior to Fanning.

The UAVs are being flown by Surf Life Saving NSW every day during the NSW holidays at beaches in Ballina, and another 34 beaches in the state.

Shark delays action at J-Bay

The drone also spotted a large shark near competitors at the Tweed Coast Pro World Surf League event at nearby Cabarita a few weeks ago.

"It's nice to know the drones go up and down the beach and can see what we can't and it makes you feel more comfortable," Wilkinson said.

"It makes other people aware that there are sharks out there but usually with no intention. It's nice to know if there's a big one around you can just come in and let them go by.

Pro surfer Matt Willkinson was paddling near Ballina when a shark swam straight at him.

"I've 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. I'm just glad today the shark reconsidered at the last second."

Beau Monk was operating the drone at the time and was on his seventh flight of the day when he saw the shark.

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"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," Mr Monks said.

"I'd spotted a large baitball and some whales and dolphins earlier in the day and had alerted the lifeguards to that."

You follow @NSWSharkSmart on Twitter for shark alerts and sightings.

Source: 9News

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