As the drone soared over the beautiful waters of the Bahamas, it sent stunning footage directly back to its pilot, Artem Tkachenko. But then Tkachenko noticed four dark shapes swimming towards a child in the ocean. He suddenly thought the school of sharks were hunting for dinner – and that they had the boy in their sights.
To many, the Bahamas is an ideal foreign vacation location. It has sun, sand and sea in abundance, after all. And although the country is part of the Americas, it’s technically a sovereign state under the British monarchy. It’s also not just one landmass – hence its plural name.
The Bahamas is actually an archipelago of over 700 islands amid the world’s clearest seas. So when you factor in the country’s tropical weather, it’s little wonder that so many tourists hold it in such high regard. But some people are drawn to the Bahamas for other reasons entirely.
To be more specific, diving enthusiasts flock to the archipelago because its waters are teeming with sharks. Caribbean reef, bull, lemon, tiger and hammerhead sharks are just some of the toothier inhabitants found in the Bahamas. And shark tourism is big business for dive operators.
Of course, not everybody is a big fan of these predators. This is arguably partly the results of past media scares and frightening films such as Jaws. But shark attacks on humans are in fact incredibly rare. The chances of being bitten in American waters are, for example, estimated to be just one in 11.5 million.
And a fatal shark attack is even less likely: the odds are around one in 250 million. With this in mind, it’s perhaps not surprising that you rarely see shark attacks captured on film. But that’s exactly what could have happened in December 2017 when Bahamas cameraman Artem Tkachenko sent out his drone.
Tkachenko’s YouTube channel normally features videos displaying some of the amazing views and attractions that the archipelago offers. However, his shark clip, added on December 19, 2017, is by far his most popular footage. The video has now received well over two million views, and it’s easy to understand why.
Tkachenko had no intention of capturing such dramatic footage, though. The cameraman actually sent out his drone to scan the beach and its coast, paying little attention to its visitors. And if that had been all that he’d filmed, then the material still would have been pretty incredible.
The drone video shows the perfect seas that the Bahamas are known for and an idyllic beach of pristine sands. It’s a site that’s obviously popular for sunbathing too. There are naturally various families topping up their tans in deckchairs or marvelling at the sparkling ocean.
A young boy then runs out of the beachfront building and dashes along the sand towards the sea. He subsequently plunges into the ocean without missing a beat before circling around for another quick dive. But the boy’s not alone in the ocean.
As the child propels himself into the water for a second time, a dark shape approaches him. The advancing creature is actually one of the country’s famous predators: a shark. The swimming kid is having so much fun, however, that he’s seemingly oblivious to its presence.
Watching a single shark advancing towards the swimmer is terrifying enough, but the camera reveals that the creature isn’t alone. Three other sharks are heading for the shallow waters, in fact, presumably attracted to the splashing. The boy then unknowingly turns his back on the approaching predators.
It looks as if the sharks are attempting to form a ring around their target. According to a Daily Mail report in January 2018, the cameraman then screamed a warning to the boy, telling the child to flee.
Apparently as a result of Tkachenko’s quick reactions, the boy quickly reached water that’s too shallow for the sharks. Next, he ran up the beach and onto the safety of dry land. Tkachenko later said he was incredibly relieved that the child had managed to move out of harm’s way.
“Thank God he heard me,” Tkachenko told the Daily Mail. But how much danger was the boy actually in? There’s certainly been some contention online with regards to that subject. Some people even believe the sharks hadn’t posed a threat to the young swimmer at all.
These viewers argued that the creatures were in fact nurse sharks, which do live in the Bahamas. This species of fish is still predatory, but experts don’t consider them overly dangerous. Though they’re capable of biting humans if they feel threatened.
Tkachenko himself, however, disputed that the sharks were harmless and posted a direct reply on YouTube. He wrote, “I saw two kinds of sharks there. Check this video, and you will see.” In addition, the cameraman provided a link to another video of a species that he believes the sharks in his footage belong to.
Regardless of who’s correct, it’s perhaps more important to note that sharks have a far worse reputation than they deserve. If the creatures were heading towards the boy to attack him, they likely did so unaware that he was a human. Some experts even believe that sharks bite us just to see what we are.
In July 2015 Macquarie University fish biologist Culum Brown spoke to The Guardian about this very matter. “The trouble with sharks is that they are inquisitive,” Brown said. “And when checking out a potential prey item, they typically come up and have a nibble. [But] we do know that sharks don’t like to eat people.”
“Your toaster is more likely to kill you than a shark,” Brown concluded. Still, the most vital issue is that the youth managed to get to dry land safe and sound. It’s also nice to know that there are decent people such as Tkachenko looking out for others. His timely warning might just have saved a life, after all.