SUP surfer on collision course with shark fails to detect warning; photos

SUP surfer and tiger shark appear to be on a collision course. Photo: Courtesy of ©Joel Nankivell/Southwest Saltwater

For several tense moments, a drone photographer in Western Australia watched helplessly as a SUP surfer and large shark appeared to be on a collision course.

Joel Nankivell, owner of Southwest Saltwater Photography, was documenting the salmon run in Injidup Bay near Yallingup on Tuesday. But also present were the surfer and a 13-foot shark.

“The shark became visible to me when I was up higher, and I saw that it was heading towards the surfer. At that point I lowered my drone and hovered over the surfer to warn him, but he didn’t get the message,” Nankivell said.

The shark lingered as the surfer alternated between paddling and sitting on his board, waiting for waves.

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“The shark hung around him for around five minutes and then made its way [closer] to shore, then the surfer caught that wave and headed straight towards the shark,” Nankivell said.

SUP surfer rests near schooling salmon and a large shark. Photo: Courtesy of ©Joel Nankivell/Southwest Saltwater

The photographer, who was operating the drone from far away, did not communicate directly with the surfer.

“But I feel that the guy didn’t know the shark was there the whole time, as he went back out to the lineup after this wave. I was definitely worried for him thinking it could all go bad if he falls,” Nankivell said. “Especially when he was waiting for the wave and the shark was right there, because the guy was sitting in his board with his feet dangling in the water.”

In the end, however, there was no collision and no attack, rendering the session spectacularly uneventful.

–Joel Nankivell, who allowed one-time use of these images for this story, offers prints for sale via his website and Facebook page.