A whale shark was spotted at an Israeli beach on July 4.

Panic erupted among swimmers and sunbathers at an Israeli beach yesterday as a shark was spotted in the sea right by the shore.

A video shared on Twitter shows the shark swimming through the shallow sea, full of people, in footage that wouldn't look too far out of place in "Jaws."

It turned out that the creature was in fact a whale shark and thus entirely harmless, but the beachgoers in Eilat, Israel, weren't to know that.

Footage shows the shark's fin above the surface of the water in close proximity to swimmers and people cooling off in the sea.

Screams and shouts are heard from people who presumably weren't expecting to see a shark while having a paddle in the Red Sea.

"He's going for that woman!" a beachgoer shouts in the video, according to the Times of Israel.

"She doesn't notice it! My god."

Whale sharks can grow to a length of 40 feet.
Getty/Trent Burkholder

Whale sharks can grow to 12 metres in length, which makes them the largest fish species in the world, according to National Geographic.

However, they are docile, gentle creatures who pose no danger to humans and mainly feed on plankton.

Although whale sharks are found in warm, tropical seas around the world, they rarely come so close to the shore.

Despite their lack of threat to humans, an Israeli shark expert advised swimmers to stay well clear of them.

"The [feeding] season is at its height and they're getting close to concentrations of plankton," Adi Barash, head of the Sharks in Israel conservation organisation, told Ynet, as per the Times.

"It's very important to not get in its way, to not touch and not chase the shark. It's fine to photograph and enjoy it."

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