Beach-goers at a popular Sydney swimming spot have shared the water with a “law-abiding” shark swimming very close to shore.

Video shared by the Manly Observer showed the finned friend swimming leisurely through breaking waves as two men — one with a surf rescue board — paddle casually right next to the beast.

One swimmer was so unaware of the shark swimming right by them, they almost “walked into” it, according to the Observer.

Shark cruises near swimmers at iconic beach

The video was reportedly captured by Ravi Rudner when the shark joined swimmers at about 10am on Wednesday.

“Well … We’ve never seen someone nearly walk into a shark at Manly beach before,” the post reads.

It wrote the “law-abiding shark” was offering a “water safety demonstration” to beachgoers.

“We are so delighted to see swimming between the flags – but slightly less relieved but more impressed to hear it’s a shark that’s doing so,” the post continued.

Beachgoer Kobie told the Manly Observer the shark had triggered an alarm and an evacuation from the water.

He said he saw the fin but had no idea which particular breed the visitor was.

“A man was literally like 2m from the shark and a lifeguard used his board to shield them as they walked into shore,” the Observer quoted him saying.

It appears the man Kobie was referring to was captured in the video, who appeared absolutely mesmerised by the shark as he walked in from the water.

At one point, the shark appears to swim at him before changing course – just before the lifeguard puts the surf rescue craft between the two.

“The guy is amazed! I would be too,” one commenter wrote.

Ravi Rudner, who captured the footage and shared it with the Observer, commented how “amazing” it was to see she shark so close.

“It was very calm and did not appear to be looking for a meal,” he wrote, but another commenter said locals told her the shark was “chasing some fish”.

Scott Williams was also there to capture the shark with his drone as it was chased away by a lifeguard on a jet ski.

Many comments had a crack at guessing what species the shark may have been – most ruling out a great white, grey nurse or bull shark.

The Manly Observer reported a “shark expert friend” suggested it was a silky whaler.

Vic Peddemors, a senior shark researcher at NSW Department of Primary Industries, commented it was “very unusual to see this species so close to the beach” in as little as two-feet of water.

“Lots of baitfish in Sydney at the moment,” he commented.

“It’s teeth do not enable it to eat large-bodied prey, so not considered potentially dangerous for humans.”

The shark was then moved past the nets.

The Northern Beaches, the council area that Manly Beach is part of, is one of 51 beaches in the NSW government’s Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program despite Council’s long-running opposition to shark nets.

In May this year, Northern Beaches Council’s Interim CEO Louise Kerr reportedly wrote to the state Minister for Agriculture Tara Moriarty to express concern over the harm to wildlife caused by the nets.

According to Northside Living News, Ms Kerr wrote that SMART drumlines – which snare a shark with bait to be tagged and released – and drones were council’s preferred methods of shark management given the evidence showing how harmful they are to non-target species.

The government’s own statistics show 204 of the 228 animals caught in the NSW shark nets in the 2022/2023 season were non-target animals – that is, everything other than white, bull, and tiger sharks. Only 85 animals (37 per cent) were released alive.

In August, Ms Moriarty announced the meshing program would go ahead this year, but said the nets were fitted with acoustic devices to deter non-target marine animals from getting tangled.

Commenters on the online footage said it was “proof shark nets don’t prevent sharks from swimming freely along the beach”.

“Glad those shark nets doing a great job of getting those dangerous dolphins, turtles and whales,” one person wrote.

Some said it was possibly lured in by the “animals caught in the nets”.

“Time (to) just get these nets down, no one that “wants them” is going to go in the water now anyway after this.”

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