Shark Attack Fatality at Muriwai Beach

Great White Shark

Great White Shark (Photo credit: kqedquest)

Police today fired around twenty shots at killer sharks at a  popular Auckland region beach – Muriwai.

The sharks, believed to be Great Whites, were at least 12 feet long according to witnesses who saw a swimmer attacked in the water near Maori Bay, Muriwai Beach at around 1.20pm today. The longest Great White  shark caught in New Zealand was a seven metre giant caught in a gill net at Waiheke Island (read Great White shark attack at Taupiri Bay by Paul Morris)

This part of  Muriwai beach where the attack took place is an  area is famous for its large colony of nesting gannets.

Wild coast and gannet colony at Muriwai, Wikipedia

Feeding frenzy

According to the NZ Herald‘s report into the incident other sharks were seen coming into the bloodied water to feed.

Our condolences go out to the friends and family of the deceased person who is believed to be a local man in his 40s. We think this is the first shark fatality in New Zealand since 2006. On average New Zealand has about 2 shark attacks a year.

Update: the victim was later named as 46 year old Adam Strange, a highly regarded film maker, actor and television commercials director. He leaves behind a young wife and child.  A compilation of his work may be found here

The number of dangerous shark sightings (Great Whites, Hammerheads and Bronze Whalers)  has been steadily increasing in New Zealand in recent years and it was only a matter of time before there was a serious injury, or worse.

Despite its location in the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand’s beaches are NOT protected by shark nets, most of them were removed in 2011. We think Dunedin City Council is the only local authority to have maintained its shark nets.

New Zealand’s Sea Becomes More Dangerous

In December last year we wrote about how New Zealand’s seas were becoming more dangerous. There have been a number of Stingray injuries, sightings of Great Whites and other shark attacks. We said:

“Last week two brothers fishing off the Kapiti Coast near Wellington were shocked when they came across a Great White shark about 3km out at sea. The locals think it may be Taranaki Terror, or “Mrs White” although no one can be certain. According to Stuff

“The Taranaki Terror was first seen in 2004 when it lunged at a small runabout off Waitara, leaving teeth marks in the hull.

Since then it has frequently returned during summer, although it was not seen at all last year.

On Saturday, Craig Simpson said the shark he and his brother saw rolled on its side and looked at them with its beady black eye.

”If I reached out I could have touched him if I wanted to, but there was no way I was going to do that.

”I was really worried at first the way it was looking at us.”

Simpson said they had seen many sharks in their 15 years of fishing, but never a great white…” more here

Stuff went on to remind its readers how much of a problem shark attacks are in New Zealand, bear this in mind next time you see an advert telling you how safe New Zealand is and how it doesn’t have wildlife that can hurt, bite or sting you.

On average, there are two shark attacks every year in New Zealand. Since  1837, there have been 15 fatal attacks. The last death was in 2006, when a kayaker was mauled by a great white in the Coromandel – whether he drowned before the shark found him is still disputed. Before that was 1976.”

School of Hammerhead Sharks, Wolf Island, Gala...

School of Hammerhead Sharks, Wolf Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Image taken by Clark Anderson/Aquaimages. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Incidentally, in 2005 a helicopter crew spotted a  shiver of 200 Hammerhead sharks some up to 2.5m long, 50m off Long Bay Beach, east coast Auckland.

At the time the beaches were packed with thousands of people enjoying the good weather. Because no lifesavers were on duty no attempt could be made to clear the water, the powers that be had to cross their fingers and hope for the best. You can read about it here.

There have also been sighting of large groups of Bronze Whalers at beaches in the Coromandel. in 2009 the beach at Matarangi Bay was closed when 200 converged for a summer feast and 40 were seen in January 2011.

But don’t let those numbers bother you too much, you stand a much higher chance of being drowned in New Zealand than dying from a marine animal attack. Unfortunately New Zealand suffers from a disproportionately high number of drownings for such a small country. It is so high that the head of Water Safety NZ said he was baffled by the number of deaths – 132 last year….” read on…