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A Dad Took A Drone Photo Of A Shark Swimming Near Five Children

"I think we’re going to practice building some sandcastles next time we go."

Posted on July 2, 2019, at 2:59 p.m. ET

Dan Watson

After a busy Sunday at Florida's New Smyrna Beach, professional photographer Dan Watson was about to pack his children into the car when he decided to take some last-minute snaps using his drone to post on Instagram.

"Within 30 seconds of getting the drone up into the air ... I started seeing the shadow moving through the water," said Watson, 35.

The shadow was a shark, swimming just feet away from where five children, including his kids Landon, 5; Jonathan, 6; and Grace, 9, were splashing in the shallow water.

Watson, who lives in Orlando, said he watched it appear on his phone screen via the drone. He immediately yelled, "Shark!"

Dan Watson

"I'm screaming at my wife, who is a little bit closer to the kids, and we're running out to get them and yelling at them to get in," said Watson.

In the middle of the mayhem, Watson clicked the drone controller to take a photo.

"During that moment, I was worried that they wouldn’t get out in time," said Watson. "It looked very close on the drone camera, from what I was seeing, and it was moving fairly quickly."

In the photo, which looks like the movie poster for Jaws taken from another angle, you can see the shark's shadow as it swam toward the shore.

"I know there are sharks in the area. I do not think — or did not think — they are in shallowish waters ... where people would generally be," said Watson.

Dan Watson

Seconds later, Watson clicked another photo, which shows the children sprinting in fear toward the beach and the shark heading in the opposite direction.

"It’s kids — you never quite know if they’re going to instantly respond," said Watson. "Thankfully they did get that terrified response and started running very, very quickly."

The youngest two children felt scared in the immediate aftermath, but have since become curious about studying sharks. His daughter is now nervous about swimming — as is his wife, Sally.

"It will be a little while before she lets the kids back in the water," said Watson.

Dan Watson

The type of shark is unknown. But one week later, a shark attacked a surfer at the exact same beach. An 18-year-old was paddling his board when a shark bit his foot. That attack happened at the same area of the beach, Watson said.

He noted that since the shark fin wasn't visible, it was nearly impossible to spot the fish from where he stood on the beach.

"There would have been no way to have known or seen about this from any way, except that I happened to fly the drone at that moment in time," said Watson.

A few hours later, Watson and his wife looked at the high-resolution images on a big screen together. It was a moment of "heavy realization," said Watson, that the shark was just a few feet away from their children.

"That's when we were like, 'Wow, that was close,'" said Watson.

“It makes me a little wary of the water for now," he said. "I think we’re going to practice building some sandcastles next time we go.”

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.