On the morning of Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015, Dustin McCaslin ventured out to Pismo State Beach in hopes of obtaining some drone footage of surfers performing their craft. Little did he know that what his robotic eye in the sky would capture would be as heart-stopping as it was breathtaking. At 9:15 a.m., the Bakersfield, California, native launched his drone at a range of roughly 50 to 100 feet above the emerald blue surface when a large, shadowy figure appeared in dangerously close proximity to the surfers.
Advertisement
The 10-foot-long shark McCaslin's drone discovered that morning adds to the ever-growing list of sightings this summer. The attack that perhaps made the most waves this year was on professional surfer Mick Fanning, who was surfing the final heat of the J-Bay Open on July 19, 2015, when cameras on the shore of the Eastern Cape in South Africa watched the horrific attack unfold live. Fortunately, Fanning survived.


An attack like the one Fanning experienced is rare, but the increased number of unprovoked shark attacks this year is drawing a lot of attention in the United States, particularly in North Carolina. In what National Geographic calls the "Perfect Storm" for shark attacks, the Carolina coast is experiencing a record number of incidents for a variety of reasons that experts are trying to pin down.

As of July 9, 2015, eight shark attacks had been reported along North Carolina's shores, compared to four for all of 2014. George H. Burgess, the director of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History, attributes the increase to warmer weather, a bloom of bait fish and higher salinity in the ocean water due to regional drought.

Across the continent, off the coast of another land mass stricken with drought, McCaslin's California coast drone discovery is a reminder that while shark attacks don't occur often (one in 11.5 million odds, according to Burgess), they still share the same water as beach bathers and surfers alike, and therefore close encounters like this one off Pismo State Beach will occur every year. 

Initially, it was believed that there was only the 10-ft shark in the drone footage, but commenters on the YouTube video McCaslin uploaded have spotted a second shark at around the 20-second mark. There hasn't been any confirmation on whether this is the same shark or a different shark, however. 

According to reports from The San Luis Obispo Tribune, McCaslin showed on-duty lifeguards his footage, and they confirmed the figure looked "very sharky." The lifeguards then followed appropriate procedures and investigated the matter further. Thankfully on this day, there would be no reports of anyone being added to the shark attack statistics.