An Auckland dog owner got the fright of her life when she saw a shark fin pop out of the water within 1m of where her dog was swimming in the shallows.
Chloe Fairweather was taking her 3-year-old cavoodle, Harvey, on his daily walk at about 7.30am yesterday when she let him off the lead at Browns Bay beach so he could play in the water.
He'd been in the ocean for a matter of minutes when Ms Fairweather saw a large fin emerge from the waves about 100m from shore.
"The water was really calm today so it was really obvious," she said.
"I saw a shark fin pop up out of the water."
The fin, which Ms Fairweather guesses was about 30cm long at its base, went under again only to re-emerge behind Harvey.
Starting to panic, she called for the dog to come in.
"He's like my baby, it's like seeing your child out there," she said.
"Harvey's pretty good, he shot out as soon as I called him. It was just a bit of a shock - I'm already afraid of sharks."
The pup never saw the shark, Ms Fairweather said, and escaped the incident unhurt and unfazed.
"He was happy as Larry, he had no idea [what had happened]."
The shark was likely a bronze whaler, said expert Mike Bhana, who has made several documentaries about sharks.
"They come into our harbours and estuaries to pup each summer," he explained.
It was a myth that sharks liked to prey on dogs, Mr Bhana said, and was unlikely the shark wanted to attack Harvey.
Sharks would eat dogs if they were hungry enough, Mr Bhana said, but New Zealand's harbours had enough prey to keep bronze whalers well fed.
"It was probably just interested in the dog and was having a look at what was going on," Mr Bhana said.
"The thing with sharks is you're never going to see the sharks who attack.
"You're more likely to see a splash and your dog's gone."
An earlier version of this story published a video of Ms Fairweather's dog that mistakenly implied the shark could be seen. The New Zealand Herald regrets the production error.