Editorial: Sharks in close up mode now

By Andrew Austin

You know that summer has arrived when the shark stories start coming in.

There is something about sharks that fascinates us. Blame the movie Jaws for giving these predators of the deep an image that they probably don't deserve, or at least not all of the time.

The thing about sharks is that they look so fierce and when they attack it normally is a mess. However, as the experts will tell you, you are more likely to get run over crossing the road than be bitten by a shark.

Summer is the time more sharks come closer to shore and it also happens to be the time when we spend more time at the beach.

There are going to be sightings. But that does not stop us wanting to hear about them.

Department of Conservation shark expert and marine species scientific officer Clinton Duffy says it is not unusual to see sharks close to shore during summer, especially around the Westshore area which is near Sandy Beach. Blue and hammerhead sharks have been spotted before, as well as school sharks, rig sharks or baby bronze whalers.

Mr Duffy says bronze whalers pup in the Bay and could be expected to drop their pups in shallow water around this time.

Some of the sharks seen in Hawke Bay, including the 1-metre shark spotted at Sandy Beach near Ahuriri yesterday afternoon, are too small to cause any harm.

I suppose sharks are like any other wild creature on land or sea: You need to respect them.

The movie image of a frenzied killer is not accurate and most times sharks will quietly slip into the deep.

As always, however, it is better to be safe that sorry and Mr Duffy has some sound advice: If you are worried, get out of the water as quickly and calmly as possible.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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