BOP teen‘s near-miss with great white shark

Great white shark Image: Clinton Duffy/DOC

A teenage boy surfing in Bay of Plenty faced a close call with a great white shark recently.

The close call at popular surf spot Matakana Island on Monday, prompted Bay of Plenty’s Boardriders Club president James Jacobs to post a warning on social media.

“A 3m plus great white leapt out of the water in full-attack mode at a teenage boy who was pulling off the end of a wave while surfing,” says Jacobs.

“Please be extra vigilant when entering the water.”

James says over the past year, there have been regular reports of great white shark encounters along Matakana and the Mount Maunganui coastline, as well as the Tauranga harbour.

Concerns about the sightings have been raised with shark scientist Dr Riley Elliott and the Department of Conservation in efforts to initiate a study to understand the influx of sharks to this area, and their movements.

There have been a number of great white shark sightings in Bay of Plenty over the past year, with videos posted online of sharks circling fishing boats and chasing fish.

Back in December, Elliott spoke to Bowntown locals about the increase in sightings.

At the time, he said people should be at "ease" with great white sightings in the area, despite the fatal attack on Kaelah Marlow in January 2021.

“Yes, something tragic happened a year ago. That was a really rare event where just a few sets of variables that rarely occur, all happened at once.”

Elliott acknowledges the presence of great whites, also known as white sharks.

He told the crowd he had been out on a boat off Bowentown earlier that same day, “and in 10 minutes of just fishing, normal snapper fishing, we had a little white shark come up the back of the boat, looked at us, went straight back down, and got on with its day”.

Elliott says it's important to recognise the context of shark sightings, and the situations in which they occur.

“If you go and overlap with a guy fishing, and he’s got burley out the back, and he’s got panicking fish, and you go for a freestyle through the back of that chum slick, you’re putting yourself in a much more heightened scenario.

“The only dangerous situation I really see out here, where something could be mitigated, is when you overlap that food expectation with a shark, and your own activity.”

Elliott is referring to the designated ski lane being in a similar area to where people go fishing and see great whites.

“Don’t overlap recreation with people fishing.”

He doesn’t think there needs to be drastic measures of change, just awareness.

“I swim with sharks for a living and I can guarantee they don’t eat people on purpose, they don’t bite people on purpose.”

-Stuff/Rachel Moore.

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Posted on 05-03-2022 14:54 | By morepork

That’s pretty unnecessary and dangerous. There’re plenty of places they could fish and it isn’t hard to be considerate. The trouble is you can’t call a cop to adjudicate when you’re in the water. I guess you could photograph the boat and then lodge a complaint at a local police station afterwards. But I understand it isn’t worth the effort. The aquacommunity has to look after itself and show courtesy and consideration for other water users. I hope they caught no fish... :-)

Consideration please

Posted on 02-03-2022 10:28 | By waiknot

A while back we were snorkelling behind Rabbit Island with a dive flag on our boat, no other boats in the area. A bit later I had a look up and some fishermen had arrived and started to burley. When I pointed out there were swimmers in the water, we were told where we could go.

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