Teenager’s near miss with 10-foot-plus great white ‘in full attack mode’

The shark was described as being in


The shark was described as being in “full attack mode” (file photo).

A teenager surfing in Bay of Plenty came across a close call with a great white shark.

Monday’s incident on Matakana Island, a popular surf spot, prompted Bay of Plenty Boardriders Club president James Jacobs to post a warning on social media.

“A 3m+ great white jumped out of the water in full attack mode on a teenager who was pulling the end of a wave while surfing yesterday,” Jacobs said.

“Please be extra careful when entering the water.”

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Locals like Peter Rogers have plenty of white shark stories to tell, but swimmers still do their thing in Bowentown.

There have been a number of sightings of great white sharks in the Bay of Plenty over the past year, with videos posted online of sharks circling fishing boats and chasing fish.

Concerns had been raised with shark scientist Dr Riley Elliott and the Department of Conservation to launch a study to understand the influx of sharks to this area and their movements.

Elliott said the young surfer reported that the shark had “rushed” out of the water towards them, but missed.

“I think the caveat is that when someone sees a shark that’s not used to it, it can be an overwhelming experience,” he said.

Riley Elliott presses a blue shark's nose to let the shark know it's not food.

Amber Jones / Stuff

Riley Elliott presses a blue shark’s nose to let the shark know it’s not food.

“If a shark wants to bite something, it usually can. It seems odd that it missed it, if it was trying to catch it.

“But it’s entirely possible and it’s concerning because it indicates predatory behavior.”

Elliott applied for a permit from the Department of Conservation to tag and study sharks, to give people information and reduce fear.

Every time there was a sighting, people had more questions, he said. “I can’t answer unless they let me do the research.

“The DOC website says a permit takes 20 business days, that’s over 300.”

He applied for the permit before the fatal attack on Kaelah Marlow in January 2021 and before sharks were found dead in the Bowentown area in December 2021.


The detail: Beaches, particularly on the Coromandel, have seen an increase in sightings of great white sharks, but an expert says the public needs more information.

“History will repeat itself, why shouldn’t it?” People want information, and that’s what science is for.

“I have the ability to give people answers to protect people and sharks.”

Elliott said people were becoming increasingly scared and he had heard talk among locals of “taking action into their own hands”.

“It’s an endangered species that hasn’t done anything wrong yet. The Department of Conservation puts them in a vulnerable position.

“It’s like looking under the bed and showing your kids that the boogey man isn’t there, but the sharks are. So where are they, what are they doing?

“People are scared, and it’s not necessary.”


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