Politics

Expert’s warning as great white shark sightings increase on North Island


A spate of great white shark sightings in New Zealand has lead to an area on the North Island being deemed a “hotspot”.

The Bowentown area on the North Island has become a “major hotspot for unknown reasons”, according to shark scientist and Marine Biologist Riley Elliott.

Dr Elliott is launching an investigation into why great white shark sightings have increased.

His research permit is currently awaiting approval from the Department of Conservation.

Mr Johnson said the shark was a Great White.
Great white sharks are a protected species in New Zealand. It is illegal to hunt, kill or harm one. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“In the last three years around the Bay of Plenty there’s been a massive increase in human and great white shark encounters,” he told 9news.com.au.

“I myself identified 15 juveniles from just peoples’ photos alone, which were sent to me last summer.”

Dr Elliott said interactions between the humans and great white sharks will increase, so he’s urging people to take care.

“Unfortunately a lot of people fish around there so sometimes it doesn’t end too well for the shark,” he said pointing to an incident yesterday.

A young great white shark was found dead on Omaha Beach on the North Island.

Dr Elliott believes the shark died after becoming trapped in fishing nets.

Amid the increased encounters, Dr Elliott urged swimmers to be wary of sharks when swimming.

“Without an understanding of the sharks’ movements, there’s a risk to both humans and these animals, because they’re endangered species,” Dr Elliott said.

A screengrab from Josh Lonergan's video of a great white shark breaching near Bowentown.
In March fisherman Josh Lonergan filmed a four-metre great white breaching. (Josh Lonergan)
To avoid “adverse interactions” people shouldn’t swim where people are fishing or baiting the water for fish.

“If you want to go swimming or surfing where great whites live you are taking that small risk,” Dr Elliott said.

“You are fifteen times more likely to drown in New Zealand then be attacked by a shark but the risk is still there.”

Kaelah Marlow, aged 19, from Hamilton was named the victim of a shark attack at Waihi Beach on 7 January 2021
Australian woman Kaelah Marlow, aged 19, was named the victim of a shark attack on 7 January 2021. (Supplied)

Kaelah Marlow’s death at Waihī Beach was New Zealand’s first fatal shark attack in eight years.

Then in March, a four-metre great white was filmed breaching from the water by local fisherman Josh Lonergan in March.

The shark had began chasing fish three metres away from the Mr Lonergan’s boat.

The head of a great white shark was found on a New Zealand beach.
The head of a great white shark was found on a New Zealand beach. (White Shark Conservation Trust)

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