Unsuspecting surfers in South Africa had an incredible brush with danger – captured by drone footage – as a Great White shark was swimming right below them as they waited to catch a wave in Plettenberg Bay.
The shark – estimated to be 10 feet long – can be seen cruising in amongst the six surfers and a lone kayaker who initially have no idea that an attack could be just seconds away.
The Great White was captured in this remarkable footage by teenager, Zachary Berman, who was filming surfers at the Western Province coastal town, in just six foot deep water.
The shark goes undetected for 25 seconds until a kayaker in a green canoe appears to spot it and suddenly realises a Great White is right beneath them and reacts.
He shouts an alert to a pal on a surfboard whose legs are just a couple of feet from the Great White, and realising the potential danger he suddenly paddles furiously away.
The kayaker seems to have bravely tried to put his canoe between the Great White and his surfer pal to give him a few vital seconds to get away and then turns and paddles off himself.
The surfer catches a wave to take him safely away from the shark which casually turns away from what could have been an easy meal and glides away, but then turns and comes back.
As the warning shouts reach the other surfers they too paddle for the beach and alert the life guards who cleared the beach at Plettenberg Bay ordering everyone out the water.
The incredible drone footage was taken by nature enthusiast Zachary, 14, from Cape Town, South Africa, who was on the beach with his father using his drone to film surfers.
Zachary told local reporters: “We normally fly the drone to capture nature and I was monitoring the shark to see how close it got to the surfers and when I saw it was heading towards them informed my dad to get them out the water.
“He was on his way to get them out and by then the shark was moving quite fast. When the shark goes underneath the boards Sea Rescue hadn’t arrived yet.
“It was really scary standing there with the remote control watching this shark head towards the surfers. You don’t really know what to do in that situation,” he said.
When the surfers and the kayaker got back to the shore he showed them the footage from his drone of the Great White stalking them and he said: “They were flabbergasted! They were completely in shock.”
National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) press spokesman Craig Lambinon said they were appealing to all surfers, paddle boarders and bathers to be on full alert for Great White sharks.
He said: “Those using the water around the Southern and Eastern Cape need to be cautious due to a high number of Great White shark sightings and close encounters at present.
“The increase of sharks at this time of the year is part of the normal aggregation of these animals that take advantage of natural prey like seals and fish coming close in shore.
“A large amount of shark sightings and some encounters have been reported close in shore along the Plettenberg Bay coastline over the past few weeks and on Sunday and today.
“Drone footage of a large Great White shark in close proximity to surfers in Plettenberg Bay today highlights the urgency of this safety appeal as they are in very close,” he said.
Sarah Waries of City of Cape Town Shark Spotters programme said: “The behaviour seen in this drone footage shows the shark is aware of the surfers and is investigating the surfers.
“It is important for people to remember that Great White sharks are naturally inquisitive Apex predators and that although shark bites are rare, water users must understand the inherent risk associated with sharing the ocean with these animals and change their behaviour accordingly to avoid encountering sharks.”
The NSRI carry emergency medical shark kits on all their sea rescue craft and rescue vehicles and their medics carry emergency medical shark kits in their private cars to respond quickly.
Plettenberg Bay resident Michael Herbst said on social media: “The drone footage is just mental and these guys said they had no idea the Great White was there until one of them yelled ‘shark’.
“They said they came out the water so fast and the beach was cleared by the lifeguards. For these surfers it was their lucky day and they will never forget what happened out there as it is all on film.”
WATCH VIDEO: Great White Shark swims between surfer in Plett, South Africa
Filmed by Zachary Berman.
What size do Great White Sharks grow to?
Great White sharks can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh up to 2 tons. The largest ever seen was a Great White dubbed “Deep Blue” off the coast of Hawaai last year, estimated to be about 23 feet.
Do Great Whites have a predator?
The Great Whites have only one known predator in the oceans which is the Killer Whale and can have as many 3,000 teeth growing in rows in their jaws at any one time up to three inches long.
What shark attacks have there been in South Africa?
In the last 10 years there have been 12 people attacked and killed in shark attacks in South Africa with 5 by Great Whites, 4 by Bull sharks, 1 by a Tiger shark and 2 by unknown sharks.
There is an average of six shark attacks a year in South Africa with 15% proving fatal and the main source is the biggest of them all – the Great White – of which there are thought to be 300 to 500 along the coast.
In 2011 Tim van Heerden, 49, was killed by an 8-foot Great White at the Keurboom River Mouth, Western Province, after being pulled off his surf board twice suffering horrific injuries and dying later in hospital.
The year before Lloyd Skinner, 37, was attacked by a Great White at Fish Hoek in the Western Province while swimming in chest deep water and was dragged out to sea after being bitten several times.
in 2012 David Lilienfield, 20, was attacked while on his body board in False Bay, Western Province by a 15 foot Great White shark which bit off his leg at the hip and despite being rescued he unfortunately bled to death.
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