Shark Plettenberg Bay

A great white shark was spotted in Plettenberg Bay on Tuesday 23 June perilously close to a group of surfers.

Photo: Zach Berman

Watch: Close encounter with shark captured in incredible drone footage

No one was injured as the shark swam directly beneath surfers, who hadn’t noticed the deadly animal until it was nearly too late.

Shark Plettenberg Bay

A great white shark was spotted in Plettenberg Bay on Tuesday 23 June perilously close to a group of surfers.

Photo: Zach Berman

On Monday, The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) sent out a warning to South Coast residents that they ought to steer clear of the beaches as a significant increase in shark traffic was being detected. 

On Tuesday 23 June, it became clear that they weren’t kidding.

Teenager Zach Berman, from Cape Town, captured footage of a great white shark cruising perilously close to unaware surfers in Plettenberg Bay, and was able to alert the Sea Rescue authorities in case anyone was hurt. 

Berman posted the footage on his Instagram, where it’s going viral.

Watch: incredible drone footage of shark encounter:

Video: Zach Berman

Shark warning released on Monday  

National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesperson Craig Lambinon said on Monday 22 June that paddlers should avoid the beaches, what with all the sharks around and all that. 

“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 close in shore,” he said. 

“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 today.” 

That didn’t deter a group of surfers, who weren’t aware of how much jeopardy they were in until the ocean’s apex predator swam directly below one of their boards. 

Videographer able to alert Sea Rescue

The footage was captured by 14-year-old nature enthusiast Zach Berman, who is spending time in Plettenberg Bay documenting wildlife during lockdown. 

He said that he was monitoring the sharks before things got seriously hairy and he saw the shark in question heading to the group of surfers. 

“We normally fly the drone to capture nature. I was monitoring the sharks to see how close they got to the surfers,” he told The South African. 

“I noticed that the shark was heading from far down the beach towards where the surfers were and informed my dad’s friends to get them out the water.”

While Berman’s father was busy contacting Sea Rescue, Zach could only watch on the monitor as the shark swam closer and closer to the surfers. 

“He was on his way to get them out and by then the shark was moving quite fast,” he said. “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 really don’t know what to do in that situation.” 

But obviously, Berman did know what to do, and managed to alert the surfers to the danger and ensure that emergency services were on hand to deal with any injuries that may have arisen. 

He showed the surfers the footage after they got back to the beach rather expediently. 

“They were flabbergasted,” he said. “They were completely in shock.”

NSRI repeat calls for caution

The NSRI said on Tuesday that the incident was all the proof the public needs that their warnings should be taken seriously. They reiterated their plea for surfers and residents to avoid getting in the water while the influx of sharks continues between Mossel Bay and Jeffreys Bay.

“Due to a high number of reported White Shark sightings and close encounters, NSRI are appealing to the public exercise caution along the Southern Cape coastline, in particular around the coastline of Plettenberg Bay and between Mossel Bay and Jeffreys Bay,” they said.