'Terrifying' Viral Photo Shot by Dad Shows Shark Approaching Kids Swimming at Beach

A father has captured the "terrifying" moment his children fled from the water off the coast of Florida after a shark swam near them.

The incident unfolded while Dan Watson, a 35-year-old professional photographer, was at New Smyrna Beach with his wife and children on June 23. He told Newsweek his family visits the beach at least twice per month.

As his children played in the water, Dan flew a camera-equipped drone over his family to shoot the scene.

As Dan filmed, he noticed a dark figure swimming near his children. He told Sally Watson, his wife, to get them out the sea.

"When I first spotted the shadow on my screen, panic immediately set in when I first spotted the shark. I shouted to my wife and told her there was a shark in the water get the kids out!" he told Newsweek. "After the kids were out of the water I began to second guess myself and started thinking, it was probably nothing. It wasn't until I was able to view the actual images the drone had captured before I realized it was for sure a shark and how close it had come."

Alongside an Instagram post of the shot, the father who runs the popular Learning Cameras YouTube channel wrote: "See that dark shadow making its way straight for the shore & those people? That was my view this weekend while flying my Mavic 2 Pro... and oh, 3 of those people are my kids!" The next image shows the kids running out the water.

"Definitely too close of an encounter for my liking!" he said.

His wife Sally told Fox 35 she didn't know why her husband was telling her to get the kids out of the ocean at first.

"I was at the edge of the water and the kids were standing in the water, and I was screaming, 'Get out, get out, get out!'"

"I didn't know why, and so he immediately brings the drone to me, and shows me the frame in the drone. You see that shark swimming right at our kids. It was terrifying."

Sally, 31, told Fox 35 Dan had taken the drone out "just for a fun picture."

Dan told Newsweek: "There was a moment that we just stared in silence next to each other just overly grateful that nothing had happened."

Asked if the Watson family will be heading to the beach any time soon, Dan told Newsweek: "We will definitely take a few weeks off and I think anything more than a few inches in the ocean to splash around in would be a nervous experience for us."

The species of the shark wasn't immediately clear.

Gavin Naylor, the program director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, told Newsweek the shark was probably a blacktip measuring around 5 feet.

The incident came just a week after a shark bit a teenager's foot at the surf hub of New Smyrna Beach, as reported by CBS Miami. The animal bit the 18-year-old from Merritt Island in Brevard County, around 60 miles from the beach, at around 4:30 p.m., officials told NBC affiliate WESH 2. The surfer suffered minor lacerations and did not require hospital treatment.

CNN affiliate WESH sent a helicopter over Daytona Beach around 15 miles away from New Smyrna on Monday, and captured a number of sharks in the water including one in the shallows.

Beachgoer Fran Kumpf told the broadcaster she saw a shark in the ocean: "The tail was just up and down, so we kind of followed it for a while and then it just disappeared."

Naylor told Newsweek there are around 30 shark attacks in Florida each year. Some 50 percent of these happen in Volusia County, mostly at New Smyrna Beach.

However, he explained beachgoers should not be overly concerned. "Sharks are common in most tropical shallow waters and do not pose a significant risk," he said.

"This said, if someone sees a shark in the water they should extricate themselves from the water calmly but purposefully. They are large predacious animals and have the power and capacity to cause damage should they become confused and bite someone by mistake."

Naylor said sharks have an unfairly poor reputation. "The statistics are very clear. The likelihood of being bitten by a shark is probably 100 times smaller than the likelihood of being injured in a car accident while driving to get to the beach."

This article has been updated with comment from Gavin Naylor and Dan Watson.