By Tui Benjamin
This is the incredible moment a huge 14ft stingray was caught on camera lurking under oblivious surfers on Bondi Beach.
Scuba diving instructor Joe Phillips was watching the sunset at the famous beach in Sydney, Australia when he captured the amazing drone footage at 5pm on Sunday (May 21).
The 25-year-old couldn’t believe his eyes when he spotted the gargantuan ray, which he thought was a rock, swimming underneath the surfers just 25 metres from the shore.
The monster ray is believed to have been a stingray – the same animal which killed Australian celebrity crocodile hunter Steve Irwin at the age of 44 in Queensland in 2006.
Joe, who is originally from Essex, UK, said: “We decided to go down to the beach for the sunset and have a play with the drone at the same time, so I was just filming the surfers and taking photos.
“When I first spotted it I thought it was a rock, I didn’t really think anything of it until it started moving.
“When it moved I brought the drone down to take a closer look and I couldn’t believe what it was and how big it was.
“Working as a diving instructor I’ve seen stingrays before never one that big – that’s the biggest one I have ever seen.
“I couldn’t believe it – as soon as I saw it and realised what it was I jumped up and ran over to my girlfriend to show her.
“Once I’d realised what it was I started following it along with the camera. I’m not sure how big it was but at least eight to 10ft and maybe even up to 14ft depending on how deep the water was.
“On the video you can see the surfers on their boards and it was definitely bigger than their boards – them being in the shots too definitely put it into perspective exactly how big it was.
“There was nothing to suggest the surfers were aware of what was right underneath them. In the video one of them swam almost over the top of it, but no one realised.”
Stingray attacks are the second highest form of injury caused by marine life in New South Wales, according to ambulance figures.
Reportedly lacerations to the feet and lower legs are the predominant injuries caused by stingrays although there have also been cases of poisoning from being stung.
Steve Irwin died after being pierced through the chest by the poisonous barb of a ‘massive’ 8ft stingray during filming for his TV programme.
But nature-lover Jack said the huge rays tend to be harmless unless provoked and does not believe the surfers were in any real danger.
Jack, who purchased the drone one month ago and is currently launching travel photography website See What We Sea, added: “I don’t know what type of ray it is but suspect it is a stingray, some people said it could be a manta ray but this is not where you tend to see them.
“I’ve seen stingrays before in that area but nothing that big – the only ones I have ever seen were pretty small.
“Stingrays will not harm or attack you unless you step on them or antagonise them, they are pretty harmless as long as you stay out of their way.
“When I posted the image on Facebook quite a few people commented saying they saw the drone and were out surfing there all day but hadn’t seen it.
“I haven’t found the people who are in the picture – there were probably about 20 surfers out on the water at that time.
“The two I caught in the photos had just caught a wave and I was following them back when I saw it, I would be really interested to know who they are.
“I love anything to do with wildlife and that is what I got the drone for – I really love photography and travel and that is what I hope to be doing a lot more of in future.”
For more of Joe’s photography go to @j_phillipstravel on Instagram.