Bronze whaler shark spotted chasing food at popular Northland beach

A bronze whaler shark has been videoed in the waves of a popular beach in Northland, but how it came to be there has concerned an expert.

Video sent to Newshub on Sunday afternoon shows the shark, which is one of the most common coastal sharks seen in New Zealand, darting about in the waves of Langs Beach.

Bronze whaler sharks are often seen hanging out in the shallows as the waves remove the need for the sharks to swim to breathe by pushing oxygenated water past their gills.

But shark expert Riley Elliott told Newshub the video shows a darker side to the discovery as people may have been luring sharks to the beach.

"I notice the fast and specific circling pattern it was doing, searching for something specific and then you hear the audience say 'he got it, a fish head' when the shark's head comes up in the shallows," Mr Elliott said.

"It is clear people had either dumped some fish carcasses post filleting or had thrown some in after seeing the shark."

A witness at the beach, Michelle Strang, confirmed to Newshub that people had been feeding the shark.

"The shark was clearly after a washed up hapuka head that a fisherman had obviously dumped in the water after fishing," she said.

"Another member of the public threw the hapuka head out to the shark which the shark then ate, turned back out to sea and swam off."

Mr Elliott said bronze whalers will generally avoid people unless given a reason not to, and that's when things get dangerous.

"It is incredibly important that people responsibly dispose of their fish carcasses. And that means not dumping them or filleting in areas popular for swimming," he said. 

"Sharks also habituate, or learn very quickly if a regular food source is occurring, i.e. in a popular anchorage, or wharf, where filleting happens, so be aware of your actions and how they may affect others. It is not smart to overlap a predator feeding and human recreation."

Mr Elliott said it's fun to see predators in person, but people need to be responsible about how that happens.

"It's amazing, and a cool thing to see a shark in the flesh, but we should understand why it's acting like this," he said.


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