Leaping shark startles Wainui surfers

Surfers get too close for comfort with marine predator.

Surfers get too close for comfort with marine predator.

A Mako Shark up close off the coast of Whakatane. Warm early-summer seas around northern New Zealand are attracting increasing numbers of sharks. File picture

A LARGE shark was seen jumping out of the water at Wainui Beach last night, startling a nearby surfer and others who saw it.

It was around three metres long, says Ben Beachen, who saw it leap about 50 metres away from him while he was surfing at the southern end of the beach near the Stock Route at about 6.30pm.

“I was paddling back out into the line-up and saw something breach the water and jump about a metre and a half into the air.

“At first I thought it was a whale but when I saw it in full, I knew it was a shark. It is hard to be sure how big it was but it looked pretty massive, definitely the biggest shark I have seen.

“It blew my mind seeing something of that nature up close and personal.”

Mr Beachen warned three other surfers near him and paddled in. A group of people who also saw the shark from their back lawn were whistling to warn them, he said.

This included Guy Edge Burns who said it was the biggest shark he had seen at Wainui.

“I went out for a surf again on dark but that thing was just playing on my mind. I did not have a great surf.”

Wainui resident David Timbs was in the water when the shark jumped and after paddling in, he warned others further along the beach.

“I have lived here since 1972 and I have never seen a shark like that,” he said.

Mr Beachen and Mr Burns thought it was a bronze whaler but shark expert Boyd McGregor, who worked with shark cages for 14 years, said it was probably a mako.

“They are more likely to jump than bronze whalers and we see them jumping all the time at sea. Bronze whalers are usually pretty docile.”

Three metres is big for a shark but if it was a mako, it posed no threat to humans.

“Makos are not a worry to people. They are only shaking off barnacles when they jump, and are only here because the food is here. There are hundreds around at the moment.”

Mako sharks hunt fish like tuna and albacore, which often come in close to hide in the murkier water, he said.

“The water has been really blue recently due to quite a big northerly push in wind and swell.

“A lot of fish hide in the murkier water so if there is not much of it then they come in closer, bringing the sharks with them.”

It was not out of the ordinary to see a shark of that size in Gisborne waters, he said.

A LARGE shark was seen jumping out of the water at Wainui Beach last night, startling a nearby surfer and others who saw it.

It was around three metres long, says Ben Beachen, who saw it leap about 50 metres away from him while he was surfing at the southern end of the beach near the Stock Route at about 6.30pm.

“I was paddling back out into the line-up and saw something breach the water and jump about a metre and a half into the air.

“At first I thought it was a whale but when I saw it in full, I knew it was a shark. It is hard to be sure how big it was but it looked pretty massive, definitely the biggest shark I have seen.

“It blew my mind seeing something of that nature up close and personal.”

Mr Beachen warned three other surfers near him and paddled in. A group of people who also saw the shark from their back lawn were whistling to warn them, he said.

This included Guy Edge Burns who said it was the biggest shark he had seen at Wainui.

“I went out for a surf again on dark but that thing was just playing on my mind. I did not have a great surf.”

Wainui resident David Timbs was in the water when the shark jumped and after paddling in, he warned others further along the beach.

“I have lived here since 1972 and I have never seen a shark like that,” he said.

Mr Beachen and Mr Burns thought it was a bronze whaler but shark expert Boyd McGregor, who worked with shark cages for 14 years, said it was probably a mako.

“They are more likely to jump than bronze whalers and we see them jumping all the time at sea. Bronze whalers are usually pretty docile.”

Three metres is big for a shark but if it was a mako, it posed no threat to humans.

“Makos are not a worry to people. They are only shaking off barnacles when they jump, and are only here because the food is here. There are hundreds around at the moment.”

Mako sharks hunt fish like tuna and albacore, which often come in close to hide in the murkier water, he said.

“The water has been really blue recently due to quite a big northerly push in wind and swell.

“A lot of fish hide in the murkier water so if there is not much of it then they come in closer, bringing the sharks with them.”

It was not out of the ordinary to see a shark of that size in Gisborne waters, he said.

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