Dan Watson thought he would use his drone to snap a cool overhead photo of his children playing in the ocean in Florida last week. Then he spotted a black blur coming into the picture.
It was a shark. Watson dropped the controls of the drone, leaving it to hover in place, and yelled to his wife to get their three kids and their two friends out of the water at New Smyrna Beach.
"I yelled 'Shark!' and my wife ran down and grabbed them out of the water really quickly,'' Watson, 35, told TODAY. "I didn't know I had captured an image. I showed my wife, and that was moment of, 'What if we hadn't flown the drone?' The shark seemed like it was coming right to shore."
Watson, a professional photographer and videographer from Orlando, captured the hair-raising sequence in a series of images that show the kids scrambling to shore.
The close call happened after the lifeguards had gone off duty around 5:30 p.m. on June 23, Watson said.
Watson normally uses the drone for his professional work but decided to grab a quick shot of the kids from above. Drones are legal on New Smyrna Beach as long as they are flown at a specified altitude in a designated space between sunrise and sunset, according to the city's website.
The beach, which is northeast of Orlando, has been a hot spot for shark activity this year. On Sunday, a shark bit an 18-year-old surfer on the foot. A 19-year-old was also bitten in the area in April.
The Watsons' three children, Grace, 9, Jonathan, 6, and Landon, 5, were stunned when they saw how close the shark had gotten to them.
"My daughter was pretty amazed and a little nervous,'' Watson said.
After the children were safely ashore, Watson used the flying gadget to watch the shark as it swam away.
The family usually goes to New Smyrna Beach about twice a month, but they might be staying closer to shore next time.
"I think we're going to work on our sandcastle skills now,'' Watson said.