New Zealand man fatally attacked
by shark, police open fire
by shark, police open fire
(Reuters) - A New Zealand man was attacked and killed by a great white shark on Wednesday in a rare fatal shark incident in the country, prompting police to open fire.
Police said they fired shots at the shark after a man was fatally bitten at Muriwai beach located around 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Auckland, one of many beaches dotted along the North Island's west coast that are known for their wild surf.
Rescue crews were quoted by local media as saying the shark was a "white pointer", commonly known as a great white, measuring roughly 4 meters (13 feet) long. Witnesses said a rescue helicopter also fired shots at the shark . . . .
Full story: Reuters
Shark attacks in New Zealand waters are quite rare.
Previous fatal attacks occurred in 2009 and 1976 while the total recorded since 1837 has been just 14. However, in the last 175 years hundreds of people have disappeared while in the water and an unknown number of those may have been taken by sharks. But even allowing for that unknown number it is safe to say death by shark attack is extremely rare in New Zealand waters.
|A Great White shark, or White Pointer|
To illustrate this claim we have a saying in New Zealand about sharks: It is not the sharks in the sea that one should worry about, but rather the land sharks (usually meaning real estate sales people).
I’m not sure that shooting sharks is the right approach to this rare problem, although I can understand the pressure that the police must have been under to take quick decisive action.
Quite by chance in 1962 myself and a buddy devised a sure-fire way for moving sharks to deeper water.
We were flying in a Cessna 180 along a coastal area of northern New Zealand when we spotted several large schools of sharks close to the shore.
|A 1957 Cessna 180|
The Cessna was an agricultural aircraft (or crop-duster in Americanese) and the pilot was accustomed to unusual landing places as part of his everyday work. He elected to land on a beach to warn swimmers that sharks were as close as the third roller out.
But because the swimmers couldn’t see the sharks they didn’t believe us. We tried to explain that from the air we only had to look through less than a metre of water compared with looking through a hundred meters of water, from the water’s edge.
Back in the air again, and flying low, we saw a large shark watching a swimmer from a distance of about 50 meters. As we approached the shark at 130 knots I saw our shadow on the water heading straight for the shark. And the shark saw it too.
It was purely chance that our heading and the angle of the sun lined us up perfectly for a hit with the shadow. But the shark was extremely quick. In a split second it did a 180 degree turn and accelerated to maximum speed, going for the deep water. The speed of the beast was amazing and it covered at least half a mile before it slowed to a more leisurely pace.
We found more sharks, large and small, close to swimmers and gave them the same treatment, and it worked every time. But we never managed to score a direct hit. The fish was always too quick.
Shark infested waters – I use that term reluctantly because it is their environment, not ours – should be patrolled by light aircraft using the shadow technique during the swimming season. But the cost may be prohibitive.
Perhaps there could be a shark patrol manned by suitably-trained amateur pilots donating their flying time to make the sea safer for swimmers.