A group of surfers had a close call with one of the ocean’s most feared predators ― and a photographer with incredible timing managed to capture their escape.
The group was surfing in waters off the coast of Perth, Western Australia, on Sunday when a shark snuck into the lineup. Once the surfers spotted its fin, they started to paddle in ― as fast as they could, of course.
“I noticed the guys coming in really quickly and I thought that was strange, so I lifted the camera up and took a quick shot,” photographer Rick Knoppert told PerthNow.
The shark was so close to the surfers, you can even see a fin lurking ominously in the foreground of the photo above.
Though the type of shark is unknown, Knoppert estimated it to be about 3.5 to 4 meters in length, and he told WAToday that the animal looked to be far more interested in the fish than the surfers.
In photos taken after the group of surfers made it to shore, they appear relieved and excited, rather than fearful. “Everyone got out safe,” Knoppert wrote on his Facebook page.
The coast of Western Australia is known for its frequent shark sightings, which have inspired quite a bit of fear surrounding the animals.
Though shark attacks on humans do occur, experts believe that they are typically cases of mistaken identity. Plus, the number of shark attacks on humans pales in comparison to the number of sharks killed each year, in large part due to shark finning by humans.
And while a surprise visit from a shark can be a harrowing experience, it’s important to remember that a shark-filled ocean is a healthy ocean.