John Weekes

John Weekes is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Sharks swimming in for summer

Mako Shark. Photo / Richard Robinson
Mako Shark. Photo / Richard Robinson

Sharks are bearing down on bathing hot spots around New Zealand as summer warms up - and predictions are for more than ever.

Marine scientist Clinton Duffy says the first days of summer have already drawn hammerhead and mako sharks to the Hauraki Gulf.

"Later in the month we'll start to hear the first reports of people seeing sharks cruising along Mt Maunganui and places like that in the Bay of Plenty," Duffy says.

Charter boat fisherman Russ Hawkins says temperatures near Mt Maunganui have risen 2.5 degrees in the past fortnight. An aerial show from mako sharks was one result of the warmer water near Astrolabe Reef last weekend. "They'll jump out of the water and do a big 360 flip ..."

Hawkins says one blue shark approached the boat and was friendly enough for his guests to pat its head. "They're a fairly docile shark - not that you'd do anything stupid with them."

Sharks and other creatures, including dolphins, were attracted by growing numbers of kahawai and smaller fish.

Holiday spots like Omaha and Pakiri are also likely shark-spotting locales. Duffy, from the Department of Conservation, says sharks there would probably be bronze whalers.

Even more species would head towards shore as summer progressed, but many would be gentle giants like the filter-feeding whale shark.

The Mainland will see its share of sharks, too. With its wide mouth and 9m body, the plankton-eating basking shark will make a distinctive splash.

- Herald on Sunday

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