Shark sightings expected to increase over summer

With two shark sightings and an attack on a surfer over Labour Weekend should Kiwis be concerned about more incidents over summer? 

Last year, NIWA scientist Cliff Law told Newshub both valuable and unwelcome marine life will increase in NZ waters as the sea temperatures increase.

"As for sharks, warm water species may increase whereas cold water species decline," Mr Cliff said.

However, Kiwi zoologist and shark expert Riley Elliot told Newshub increased sightings are not reflective of increasing shark numbers worldwide, as most shark species are in decline.

"They've always been around," Mr Elliot said.

"These days there are more people on the waters and more boats, so we hear about it more."

Sharks follow prey and their migration to New Zealand waters has also increased with warmer sea temperatures. 

While we may start to see more warm water shark species, Mr Elliot does not believe they pose a threat.

The last fatal shark attack in New Zealand occurred at Muriwai Beach in 2013.

"The realistic perspective is that sharks do what sharks do," Mr Elliot said.

"Every day they make mistakes, in New Zealand it's very rare."

Mr Elliot said if you come across a shark and are uncomfortable, calmly remove yourself from the situation.

A bronze whaler shark was spotted in the waves of Langs Beach on Sunday.

They are one of the most popular species in New Zealand, found in the shore breaks of the east coast. 

They feed in estuaries at dawn and dusk, mostly on crabs and small fish.

Waves remove the need for bronze whalers to swim to breathe, as oxygenated water pushes past their gills, so they can be found 'sunbathing' in shallow waters.

"I've tried swimming with them in those situations and they flee," Mr Elliot said.

The Langs Beach shark appeared to have been accidently baited by beachgoers throwing food into the water.

Mr Elliot said while you should acknowledge the sighting as a unique experience, it's also a warning.

"Act responsibly when you process fish and don't dispose in the vicinity of where people go," Mr Elliot said.

He said to put them in your vegetable garden, donate them to or take them back into the ocean and dispose them where nobody is swimming.