Champion surfer Jack Wilkinson’s near miss with shark caught on camera


A pro surfer has been filmed in an encounter with a shark, saying he was completely unaware the 1.5m predator had approached him.

A drone has helped save a pro surfer from a potential shark attack in a terrifying Mick Fanning-like encounter on Sharpes Beach at Ballina.

The shark is seen approached Wilkinson as he paddled in the water. Picture: Surf Life Saving NSWSource:Supplied

A former pro surfer has been filmed in a terrifying close up encounter with a shark at a beach on NSW far north coast.

Matt Wilkinson told NSW Surf Lifesavers he had no idea he’d been approached by the 1.5m shark while paddling on his board at Sharpes Beach in Ballina.

“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,” Mr Wilkinson said. “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 said.

The shark is seen approaching Wilkinson as he paddled in the water. Picture: Surf Life Saving NSWSource:Supplied

He was told to come into the shore by Surf Life Savers after they witnesses this moment via drone Picture: Surf Life Saving NSWSource:Supplied

“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,” he said.

The escape is his second close encounter with dangerous sharks — Mr Wilkinson competed in the heat before Mick Fanning was attacked by a large white shark in South Africa.

“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 incredible footage was captured by an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), operated by Surf Life Saving NSW on behalf of the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI).

“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,” Wilkinson said.

Beau Monks, the drone operator, said he spotted the shark during his seventh flight of the day.

“It sort of came out of nowhere, then went right up to Matt,” he said. “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.

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Surfing, Sharks, Mick Fanning, Ballina

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