When Matt Wilkinson saw the footage, he could only put his head in his hands. He had heard a splash as he paddled his surfboard off the coast of Ballina in northern New South Wales, Australia, on Wednesday. "[I] looked around and couldn't see anything,” the world championship surfer says in a statement, per the Guardian. At that point, a drone operated by Surf Life Saving NSW came toward him and from its speakers issued a warning about a shark nearby. Following orders, Wilkinson returned to the beach "feeling a bit weird." It was only when lifeguards showed him the drone footage that "I realized how close it came," he says. 'It" was an 8-foot-long Bull shark speeding toward Wilkinson, per 9News. It darts around him then appears to come incredibly close to his feet before swimming away.
"It looks like it's going for my leg and it's changed its mind," Wilkinson says. "I'm just glad … the shark reconsidered at the last second." While Wilkinson knows enough about sharks "to know they have not too much interest in humans," he knows there's some interest. During the 2015 Jeffreys Bay Open surfing competition in South Africa, he competed in the heat before surfer Mick Fanning was attacked by a great white shark. "When I saw the footage I saw the similarities, like I had a yellow leg rope on and Mick's board was yellow," Wilkinson says. He'll be back in the water, but not too soon. His wife, whom he married last week, "doesn’t want me surfing for a couple of days now," he says. She "used to hate me playing golf," Wilkinson adds, per 9News. "It might now be one of her favorite pastimes." (Read more sharks stories.)