Pro-surfer Matt Wilkinson has narrowly avoided a shark attack while surfing near Ballina, on NSW North Coast, in a terrifying encounter captured on camera.
« I heard a little splash behind me, looked back and there was nothing there, and then the lifeguards drone came down and said that there was a dangerous shark in the area, » he said.
« The shark had kind of come at me from in front and then went around the back and had a little go at my legs, then last minute decided that my feet stunk or something and turned away. »
« It could have been either a little white or a bull shark or a bronzie, » Wilkinson said.
« It was probably about 8 foot long, it looked like it was a few feet longer than me, » he said.
« We get to see sharks a little bit out in the surf but that was definitely my closest encounter and I hope it doesn’t get any closer than that. »
It’s a survival story he now shares with fellow Australian three-time world champion surfer, Mick Fanning, who was attacked by a shark at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa in 2015.
« His one was a little bit more wild than mine, but I guess I got to feel that weird, heart-sinking but lucky feeling when I saw that footage, » Wilkinson said.
« 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 drone’s operator, Beau Monks from the Australian UAV Service, spotted the shark near Wilkinson and said it all happened very quickly.
« It sort of came out of nowhere, then went right up to Matt. It moved pretty fast, » he said.
« 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. »
Wilkinson began competing in the World Surf League in 2006 and finished the season ranked No.5 in 2016 and 2017.
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Surfing, Sharks, Ballina, Mick Fanning
Actu monde – AU – Aussie surfer’s incredible shark escape caught on camera