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Food brings sharks inshore

No attacks in Gisborne area since records began in late 1800s.

Over summer it would be unusual not to see sharks somewhere in the waters around Gisborne, says Department of Conservation's shark expert Clinton Duffy.

Blue sharks and mako are common offshore during summer.

Broadnose sevengills, bronze whalers, smooth hammerheads and common thresher shark sightings occur in coastal waters, as well as offshore during summer.

“There are occasional sightings or captures of great white sharks on offshore reefs, particularly Ariel Bank and South Rocks, throughout the year,” Mr Duffy said.

Sharks move inshore over summer to feed on coastal fish such as stingrays, small sharks (rig and school shark), kahawai, mullet and snapper, and to give birth.

“From when records began in the late 1800s, there have been no recorded shark attacks in the Gisborne area,” he said.

“Around most of New Zealand, the vast majority of encounters with sharks do not result in unprovoked attacks or injury to humans.

“Sharks can be caught by commercial and recreational fishers.

“Anyone accidentally catching a protected shark must release it immediately and notify DoC and Fisheries NZ of the circumstances as soon as possible.”

“If fishing from the shore the shark should not be hauled out of the water before it is released,” Mr Duffy said.

A handling and release guide can be found online at tinyurl.com/yxw2rd5l

If you encounter a shark while swimming or diving and cannot identify it, or are unfamiliar with shark behaviour, the best thing to do is leave the water quickly, with as little commotion as possible, Mr Duffy said.

“Panicked, jerky movements could make the shark think you are injured or drowning and therefore easy prey.

“Try to get the attention of anyone nearby so they are aware of what is happening and can help if needed.

“If you are diving try to ascend under or as close to the boat as possible, or swim along the bottom to shore.

“Avoid swimming or diving at night, near seal colonies, large schools of fish or areas where fish and other marine life are actively feeding, or in areas where people are fishing or discarding fish remains.”

“The safest place to swim is always going to be between the flags on a patrolled beach.

“If you swim anywhere else you should always do so with others.”

Common sight: Mako are among the more common shark sightings offshore of Gisborne. Hawke's Bay Today picture