Shark spotted in shallows metres from children playing on Australia Day

It comes as authorities issue a stark warning to all Aussies this long weekend.

Panicked Australia Day swimmers were forced to flee the water when a shark was spotted cruising the shallows at a Sydney beach this morning.

The excitement at La Perouse in the city's south was captured on video. Families had gathered at the Sydney beach to cool down as temperatures soared on one of the hottest public holidays in recent memory.

The video shared online shows the shark clearly visible, swimming metres from the shore as families watched on. The person who captured the footage claimed the animal was "a baby", but it's unclear what species of shark it may have been. People responding to the video pointed to the fact that if it is a pup, "mum won't be far away".

A close-up photo, centre shows the shark's fin at La Perouse beach. Two other images show people watching from the beach.
The shark was spotted at La Perouse in Sydney's southeast. Source: Facebook.

"Where there's a baby there's mum or dad, I wouldn't be putting my feet in the water," a person wrote. Though nobody can be seen actually in the water in the vision, the beach is busy with groups of people seen dotted around the shore.

While in this instance the situation appeared to be safe, shocking footage captured in Western Australia just days ago has shown how the animals can pose a danger to humans, even close to shore. Though attacks are extremely rare, one person captured the horrifying moment a tiger shark, chasing a turtle, darted across the shoreline of a beach where people were standing nearby.

Aussies warned death more likely on Australia Day

Meanwhile, the sizzling weather — which has already shattered records in some parts of the country — has prompted a warning from officials, imploring people to stay safe at the beach.

"With many set to enjoy a long weekend and some expected to take extra days off... lifesavers are anticipating more than one million people to flock to the coastline," NSW Surf Life Saving said in a statement.

The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted major hotspots including Forster, Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay, as well as Sydney and the Illawarra to reach temperatures in the high 30s today, with temperatures in the Hunter and Central Coast having the potential to reach 40 degrees.

Bondi Beach.
Aussies have been warned to stay safe at the beach this long weekend.

"All of this is a dangerous cocktail of ingredients which sees the coastal drowning risk climb by four times on Australia Day. Equally, the risk is 1.5x as likely during school holidays and more than two times as likely on public holidays generally and long weekends," the authority warned, adding there had been 11 drownings in NSW alone since December.

“Enjoy the weekend but make sure that if you’re heading to the beach, visit a patrolled location and only swim between the red and yellow flags," Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce said.

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