Onlookers appeared more fascinated than frightened when four menacing fins surfaced in the shallows at Coopers Beach two days in a row.

On Friday and Saturday four sharks, the largest nearly 2m long, were seen swimming only about 10m from the shore, just beyond the breaking surf in relatively calm, warm water.

The sharks, possibly bronze whalers, arrived at about 3pm and left by 5pm on both days, coasting in on the high tide.

Beachgoers at the lovely Far North hotspot made sure the sharks had the water to themselves; some people running along the beach yelling "Sharks! Get out of the water".

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Shark spotters said it was unusual to see sharks only metres off the beach, one spectator telling the Northern Advocate they were possibly feeding on small fish.

"People were definitely looking out for them and looking after the bathers, too," said a holidaymaker who did not want to be named but supplied the photo of the sharks.

"They created great excitement. People seemed more interested in them than scared, but everyone stayed well away from the water.

"The photo just doesn't do it justice. They were very close to shore and could be very clearly seen," he said.

The sharks did not return yesterday although a fair few people had gathered on the beach hoping for a sighting, he said.

Bronze whalers are commonly seen close to shore. Other small-toothed varieties frequenting Northland waters are mostly fish eaters and considered harmless.

There has never been a confirmed shark-attack fatality in Northland.

It is not uncommon for Northland beaches serviced by lifeguards to be closed because of shark sighting, with noticeably higher numbers some years than others.