THIS is the heart-stopping moment a surfer swims for his life after he is stalked by a shark just INCHES away from him.

Roger Essig, 42, was paddling off Gunnamatta Beach in Victoria, Australia, when the toothed six-foot sevengilll crept up on him.

In the video of the encounter, which was captured using a 360-degree camera, the shark can be seen approaching from the man’s side before he spots him.

It was then when the machinist from Cheltenham, Victoria, estimates that the shark came “within a few centimetres” of touching him.

The brave surfer was suddenly quick to paddle to safety as he made a swift exit.

“It was like it appeared by magic out of nowhere,” he said.

“It made it apparent that this was a skilled hunter, because of its stealthy approach.”

“For the first split second I was relieved that it was not a huge shark, but that thought quickly dissipated as I had no idea of the shark’s intentions and was unfamiliar with what type of shark it was.”

The country has been hit by a number spate of shark attacks in the country over the past year, which has included two high profile incidents in Western Sydney alone.

Earlier this month, a ten-year-old boy was airlifted to hospital after being attacked by a similar sized shark at a remote swanning pool.

A local tour guide described how he dragged him "bleeding in to the shallows" before he underwent surgery to repair the 16cm-long wound.

It proceeded another attack in March where Jackson Howson, 27, was bitten in the calf by a shark that was attempting to snatch his catch.

It left Mr Howson with a horrifying 8cm bite wound on his leg from the predator – believed to be either a whaler or bull shark, which is considered by experts to be the most dangerous shark in the world.

With horrific incidents still “fresh in his mind,” Essig admitted he was aware of the dangers when entering into the sea off the coast line shore.

He added: “In 35 years of being in the surf, I've never seen a shark while out there.

“I know 'in theory' there are probably always sharks around, but I wasn’t aware of any recent sightings in the area, and hadn’t sought out such information.

“But, one month ago, a great white shark killed a man in my hometown at Tuncurry Breakwall, which was my favorite surf spot growing up.

“So his death was on my mind within seconds.”

The shark in question was believed to be a sevengill, measuring just under two metres long.

According according to Florida Museum, which maintains the International Shark Attack File, it’s a species that’s “aggressive when provoked” and considered “potentially dangerous to humans.”

However, the file only has five records of a sevengill launching an unprovoked attack on a human.

Last year Australia recorded its highest figures for fatal shark attacks for almost 100 years.

Eight men – aged between 17 and 60 – were killed while in the water off the coast of the country.

Scientists speculated shifting hunting grounds, the weather, staycations and overfishing all may have played a role in the spike.

Just a handful of people are killed by sharks every year, with attacks usually happening in Australia, the United States and South Africa.

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