Shark spotted lurking in shallows of popular Aussie beach: 'I was scared'

"I was worried at some stage this could be an attack," said the photographer who filmed the tiger shark encounter.

Incredible drone footage shows the moment an oblivious woman swam in the shallows of a popular Perth beach as a tiger shark loitered just a few metres aways.

The heart-stopping moment was captured by a WA drone photographer and shared with 7news on Friday, showing the woman relaxing in the water as the shark approached her. The woman appears to have no idea how close the deadly animal was until people began to scream at her from the shore.

Sam Wood, one half of a duo who runs the Wanderlust_Flyer Instagram account which captured the moment, said he was seriously worried he was about to witness an attack.

The woman didn't realise the tiger shark swam mere metres away as she paddled near the shore.
The woman didn't realise the tiger shark swam mere metres away as she paddled near the shore. Source: 7News

"I was worried at some stage this could be an attack and I was obviously quite scared," he told 7News.

Once he showed the aerial footage to the woman, she couldn't quite believe how lucky she was.

"Once I showed her, she was quite stunned and couldn't believe how close it got – and she had no idea. She didn't even see it," he said.

Fortunately the tiger shark showed little interest in the nearby swimmers, including a young child who paddled overhead in a small kayak.

Drone operator Sam Wood (pictured) thought he might be witnessing a tiger shark attack.
Drone operator Sam Wood thought he might be witnessing an attack. Source: 7News

The incident took place at Hillarys Beach at around lunchtime on Wednesday. According to Surf Life Saving WA, the small 200-metre beach is "very popular amongst tourists and families with young children".

"The shape and surrounding infrastructure make the beach a sheltered bay, where the water is so calm it’s almost like swimming in a pool," it's website says.

There has been an uptick in shark sightings off the WA coast heading into 2023, with about 50 sightings in the past week, 7News reported. But some experts put that down to an increase in drone photography, rather than an actual increase in shark numbers.

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Shark incidents on the rise

Australia’s oceans are home to the three species responsible for the most shark bites, including the white, tiger and bull shark.

In the last decade, there have been 249 incidents involving sharks and humans, a 44 percent jump on the previous decade, according to Taronga Zoo’s Australian Shark Incident Database. Between 2013 and the end of this year, 25 people lost their lives to shark bites compared to 17 in the 10 years’ prior.

Professor Charlie Huveneers, Research Leader of the Southern Shark Ecology Group at Flinders University told Yahoo News Australia this month "there’s no doubt that there has been an increase in shark bites." However he admits the exact reasoning as to why this is happening is unclear.

"It's likely to be a combination of factors," he said. "More people in the water, people spending more time in water, and people going to more remote locations where sharks are more likely to be found."

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