A great white shark circled to within inches of pro surfer Matt Wilkinson's board before darting away in a chilling encounter captured by a drone that is part of an Australian shark warning system. The shark might have been deterred from attacking Wilkinson by the unfamiliar touch of a leg rope on its snout or the overhead noise of the drone, officials said on Thursday.
The 32-year-old surfer from Sydney said he never saw the shark while he was paddling his board but heard a fin or tail break the water's surface during the recreational surf on Wednesday off the tourist town of Ballina.
"I heard, like, the sound of its tail and I kinda looked back and I was like, 'No, there's nothing there,' and I had some weird vibes and just convinced myself that it was all good, as you always do when you're out in the surf," Wilkinson told Nine Network television.
Moments later, Wilkinson heard the overhead drone broadcast a recorded warning that a dangerous shark was nearby and everyone must leave the water.
Wilkinson first saw the shark when he watched the drone footage on the beach. Wilkinson said "my heart just sank" when he realized how close the shark had come.
"It actually, like, went to have a bite and then my stinking little toe must've made it change its mind," Wilkinson joked.
Drone operator Beau Monks said he was frightened when he saw through the drone camera the shark rise from the deep, turn and quickly close in on Wilkinson.
"I'm not entirely sure why the shark decided to turn away at the last minute. It could be something as simple as bumping into his leg rope or it might have been the drone," Monks told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
"Marine creatures have been known to dart away when a drone does come over," Monks added.
Ballina is part of the New South Wales state coast north of Sydney that has become notorious for shark attacks in recent years.
Drones are patrolling Ballina beaches for sharks every day of the current school vacation period.
In 2015, Wilkinson had competed at the J-Bay Open in South Africa when fellow Australian surfer Mick Fanning was attacked by a large great white shark.
Wilkinson had surfed in a heat before the shark bit Fanning's board. Fanning was not injured.
In June, dramatic drone footage showed a great white shark swimming very close to multiple surfers in South Africa.
DJI Mavic Air 2
The Mavic Air 2 (9/10 WIRED Recommends) is the drone that most people should buy. It's portable and lightweight, but it still manages to pack in a brilliant half-inch sensor for high quality images and video. Tons of automated features mean you can just fly and get the images you want, or shoot video and let the drone avoid obstacles and track your subject. You'll even get 60 frames-per-second 4K video—something that still isn't available in the more expensive Mavic 2 Pro—and Spotlight, a powerful automated flight mode pulled from DJI's pro-grade Inspire drone.
Best Budget Drone
DJI Mavic Mini
You might not be able to spend so much on a drone like the Mavic Air 2, but its great collision-avoidance tech is why we made it our top pick. For a more affordable option, the Mavic Mini (8/10, WIRED Recommends) from DJI is also a great choice (and our previous favorite). It flies nearly as well as its larger siblings, though wind gusts that wouldn't faze the Mavic 2 Pro will ground the Mini. There's also no 4K video and no front and rear collision-avoidance sensors like you'll find in more expensive drones.
Despite those caveats, the Mavic Mini is still a great entry-level drone. It's fun to fly, shoots good-enough 2.7K video, and packs up smaller than many smartphones. That last bit is key, because the best drone is the one you actually bring with you. At a mere 249 grams, it's easy to take the Mavic Mini everywhere you go.
Best Luxury Drone
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
DJI's Mavic 2 Pro (9/10 WIRED Recommends) is in a class of its own—it's the best drone you can buy right now if price is no concern. The image and video quality are amazing, and the ability to travel—and track objects—at 45 miles per hour means you're not going to miss a shot. The omnidirectional obstacle-avoidance will keep the drone out of the trees, and the 25-minute flying time means you can stay aloft longer. It's expensive, but in this case, you get what you pay for.
Best Video on a Budget
With a camera that tilts a full 180 degrees, a Hitchcock-style "dolly mode," and built-in zoom, the Parrot Anafi can shoot some footage no other drone on this page can manage. The downside is, the footage isn't as sharp and clear as what you'll get from DJI's machines. Out of the box, the Anafi is very sluggish to fly, but head into settings and bump up the speed and it will fly just as well as more expensive options. Flight time is a solid 25 minutes, and it's hands down the quietest drone I've ever flown.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
DJI's Phantom drones feel like monoliths from another era, and they may well be—the company hasn't released a significant update to the Phantom line in nearly four years. Still, if you're a video or drone professional, the Phantom 4 Pro V2 (8/10 WIRED Recommends) is the drone to get. It's like flying a rock, and I mean that in the best way possible. The Phantom 4 Pro is stable and responsive; shoots incredible, cinema-quality footage; and is practically smart enough to fly without you. It may not generate much buzz these days, but the Phantom remains an excellent choice that won't let you down.
Best Toy Drone
Syma X20 Mini Drone
I've been flying drones for seven years now, and I still get a little nervous every time I fly. If you've invested more than $1,000 in your drone, you'd be crazy not to be a little nervous. One of the best ways to get over that is to practice with a cheap one—like my favorite toy drone from Symatoys. The X20 is sold in a variety of configurations and rebranded by several companies, but it's all the same basic hardware. Don't pay more than $40. Be careful flying indoors, as it can hurt when it hits you (ask me how I know that). It's a little different to fly compared to the bigger drones (if anything it's more difficult), but also a lot of fun.
Best Star Wars Drone
Propel Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter
Propel's X-Wing fighter drone is a great drone for Star Wars fans. There are actually three drones in this line: the X-Wing, a Tie X1, and a Speeder Bike. The best part is all of them have a "battle mode" so you can fly against friends and try to shoot them down. Get hit three times with the IR beam and your drone will auto-land. Unfortunately, these have a learning curve when it comes to flying—a little tap of the control stick goes a long way—and mine had a habit of flying off at an angle immediately on takeoff. Holding a position is also a lost cause, but once you master the sensitive controls, these are fun to fly (and fight).
Prime Day is now in full swing and there’s no shortage of fantastic Prime Day drone deals to choose from. If you’re into drones, you’ll find some exciting opportunities with these drone deals; some of the most affordable drones with amazing maneuverability, obstacle avoidance, 4K cameras, and other features are heavily discounted. There was a time when drones were either inexpensive and super flimsy, or more than $1,000. Now, you can find tons of mid-priced drones that have amazing controls, as well as top-rate photo and video capabilities.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
If you want a high-end drone with some of the best flying capabilities and video quality on the market, the prosumer focused DJI Mavic 2 is it.
Potensic T25 GPS Drone
The Potensic T25 is a great deal at under $200, with 1080p live video capabilities, and a range of up to 300 meters.
Snaptain S5C WiFi FPV Drone
The inexpensive and well-reviewed Snaptain S5C is a great entry point into an FPV drone for beginners.
DEERC D10 Drone
The DEERC D10 foldable drone is an incredibly cheap and beginner-friendly drone with all the essentials. It has a 720p camera and can fly for up to 24 minutes.
Holy Stone HS110D Drone
An excellent entry-level drone, the Holy Stone HS110D is definitely great for beginners on a budget thanks to its easy-to-use controls, 1080p camera, and various hover modes.
Ruko F11 Pro Drone 4K
With 30 minutes of flight time and 4K video capabilities, the Ruko F11 is definitely a bargain.
Take flight and watch the sparks fly with the DJI Spark drone, capable of soaring at speeds of 31 miles per hour with a 12-megapixel camera for breathtaking cinematography.
Snaptain SP650 Drone
This Snaptain S650 drone is great for entry-level flyers with 1080p video recording and various modes that let you experience all that the open sky has to offer.
SNAPTAIN A15H Foldable FPV WiFi Drone
Foldable lightweight Snaptain drone with a 720p HD camera with realtme Wi-Fi transmission to smartphone app. Intelligent voice control. 15% off with coupon on product page.
Holy Stone HS165 Drone
Trigger your flight or flight instincts with the Holy Stone HS165 drone, capable of capturing videos in spectacular 1080p while harboring a number of flying modes.
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
Elevate your scenic photography to new heights with the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom drone, featuring a 48-megapixel camera and 1080p lossless video for photorealistic multimedia.
BUY AT AMAZON
Snaptain SP500 Drone
This Snaptain SP500 drone is incredibly simple to use, packed with a well-rounded arsenal of features for you to enjoy, including 1080p video, auto-hovering, and even Wi-Fi transmission.
Potensic D85 GPS Drone
With an impressive 40 minutes of flight time thanks to two internal batteries, you'll be in the air much longer than most competing drones of its price.
Potensic Dreamer Drone with 4K Camera
Potensic Dreamer drone has a 4K camera. 31 minutes of flight time with a 2 hour charge. GPS radio-controlled quadcopter with 5.8GHz Wi-Fi, altitude hold, and follow me feature. $20 off with coupon.
Should I shop on Prime Day or wait until Black Friday?
With Prime Day and Black Friday placed so close together this year, there’s a strong possibility that Amazon may not be able to restock their products in time for Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Amazon also saw massive shipping delays in the first few months of the pandemic, so it might be smart to get your holiday shopping out of the way sooner rather than wait till late November. There also won’t be any noticeable difference in prices between these two events so don’t worry about that. Get on these Prime Day drone deals as early as you can so you can get a leg up on your holiday shopping.
Are any Prime Day drone deals too good to be true?
We expect to see tons of drone deals come Prime Day. Before buying your new drone make sure you do a little bit of research. Look at the different brands available on Amazon beforehand so you can decide in advance which type of drone is best for you. Always stick to household names, never buy a product with bad reviews or no reviews. Also if you see a significant discount on any drone make sure that the deal doesn’t seem too suspicious. If something is heavily discounted but has bad reviews, it’s safe to say that even the low price doesn’t make that product worth an investment.