Image: Zachary Berman /NSRI
  • New drone video shows a great white shark swimming perilously close to a group of surfers and kayakers near Plettenberg Bay.
  • The NSRI warns that there are currently large numbers of sharks along the Garden Route coast.
  • There is normally an increase in shark activity this time of year.
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Incredible drone footage, shot on Tuesday by a fourteen-year old, shows a very close encounter between a great white shark and paddlers off Plettenberg Bay.

The shark casually swims just below the group of kayakers and surfers, who are unaware of its presence. As a wave breaks, they finally notice what is below them and make a break for shore. No-one was hurt.

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has been on high alert over the last few days, warning those along the Southern Cape and Eastern Cape coastline, particularly around Plettenberg Bay, of several shark sightings and encounters. 

It says that a surge of shark activity is normal for this time of year, and that they target seals and fish close to the shore.

READ | 'New' killer whales have moved to South Africa - and are feasting on local great white sharks

Watch the drone footage, shot by 14-year-old Zachary Berman, here:

The NSRI posted the video on Twitter along with an urgent safety warning to all watergoers. 

“Drone footage of a large White shark in close proximity to surfers in Plettenberg Bay on Tuesday highlights the urgency of this safety appeal,” it said.

Sarah Waries of the City of Cape Town's Shark Spotters programme says the drone footage shows that the shark was investigating the surfers. Sharks are so-called "apex predators" (they are on top of the food chain) and naturally inquisitive. 

The South African reports that Berman's father called Sea Rescue South Africa while his son was filming the encounter, to alert them of the shark’s presence.

Here are some precautions Shark Spotters recommends to reduce your risk in the water:

  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski when birds, dolphins or seals are feeding nearby
  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski where fishing or spear fishing is taking place
  • Do not swim in deep water beyond the breakers
  • Do not swim if you are bleeding
  • Do not swim near river mouths
  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski alone
  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski at night
  • Do not swim, surf or surf-ski if there has been a whale stranding nearby
  • Obey beach officials and lifeguards if told to leave the water
  • If a shark has recently been sighted in an area, consider using another beach for the day
  • First-time visitors to beach areas should ask the local law enforcement official, lifeguards or locals about the area
  • For those kayaking or surf-skiing far out to the sea, consider paddling in groups and staying close together (in a diamond formation)
  • Consider using a personal shark shield when you go surfing or kayaking
  • Pay attention to any shark signage on beaches

For a sea rescue emergency, contact the NSRI on 112 or 087 094 9774

READ | Watch: Scientists launched a fake shark near Cape Town, and accidentally attracted a real shark's attention

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