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Drone Photographer Spots Shark Approaching Shore and His Kids

Image Credit: Wix Stock Library

There’s nothing more classic than a summer day at the beach. The sun, sand, and water are all makers of a perfect outing in hot weather that both children and adults can enjoy. Also, everyone needs at least one iconic beach pic. That is until nature turns against you. The beach is free fun, but it’s also one of the more dangerous ventures you can take with your family. One Florida dad was able to witness the turn of the tides on what was supposed to be a fun family excursion with his drone as their classic summer day almost turned into another summer classic: Jaws.

Deep in the depths of June, Orlando-based photographer and videographer Dan Watson and his wife, fellow photographer Sally Watson, went out to New Smyrna Beach with their three children and two of their friends. As the children were out in the water, Dan began flying his DJI Mavic 2 Pro to get overhead shots of the kids. While flying, he noticed something on his display, a dark shape coming into frame. It wasn’t long before the shape took the form of a shark and Mr.Watson was rushing to warn everyone. In an interview with Today, he stated, “I yelled 'Shark!' and my wife ran down and grabbed them out of the water really quickly.”

Image Credit: Instagram @learningcameras

Every summer, shark attacks are a hot topic, and this is especially the case at Florida beaches. According to the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File (ISAF), New Smyrna Beach is the Shark Bite Capital of the World: “It is estimated that anyone who has swam there has been within 10ft of a shark.” Last year, there were 16 cases of unprovoked shark attacks in Florida. That's 24% of the worldwide total!

While these numbers are worrisome, the odds of a person being attacked by a shark are still minuscule. According to the World Animal Foundation, “The odds of getting attacked and killed by a shark are 1 in 4,332,817. In a lifetime, you are more likely to die from fireworks (1 in 340,733)”. Regardless, you should still be careful while in the water because sharks could come closer to shore than you expect. The International Wildlife Museum shares some advice on their site on how to stay safe as a swimmer. Here are just a few of their suggestions:

  • Always stay in groups since sharks are more likely to attack a solitary individual.

  • Do not wander too far from shore — this isolates an individual and additionally places one far away from assistance.

  • Avoid being in the water during darkness or twilight hours when sharks are most active and have a competitive sensory advantage.

On less thrilling days, Dan Watson and his wife Sally are both professional photographers, and like many photographers (and people in general), they demonstrate their skills and share their experiences through Instagram. Watson shared the experience on his Instagram account @learningcameras, where the post has garnered over 10,000 likes and almost 1,000 comments.

This is just one of many reports about drone pilots capturing amazing sights while flying over water. From rarely seen sea creatures to rescuing whales, drones have become one of the most useful conservationist tools for marine life and the humans who interact with it. In 2018, BBC News reported that lifeguards in Australia are using drones with shark-detecting software to warn stranded swimmers. “The Westpac Little Ripper drones use artificial intelligence software, Shark Spotter, to distinguish between sharks and other marine life. An on-board siren warns swimmers of a nearby shark.” Maybe the next time you go to the beach, you should bring your drone. You never know when it could save a life.


I am a writer and an artist based in Georgia. Specializing in illustration, graphic design, and video art, I love to explore the new ways technology intersects with art. I think drones have done amazing things for photography and video art, making what would previously be costly and difficult more accessible. As a complete novice, it was only recently that I saw what independent artists could do with their drones, and I continue to be impressed by the sights that drones are able to explore and the images they can capture. Instagram: @tyesha.ferron

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