Beachgoers in New Zealand were startled last week when several large bronze whaler sharks swam right up to the edge of the surf at a popular beach, chasing nervous swimmers out of the water.
The bronze whalers, also known as copper sharks, were spotted on Saturday at Papamoa Beach in the Bay of Plenty, according to the Daily Mail. Around 2:30 p.m., two or three sharks approached the beach, where a number of people were swimming in the shallow water. According to witness Amber Mead, her six-year-old daughter, Katelyn, was one of the first to spot the sharks as they approached the edge of the surf.
“We took the girls down for a swim and my daughter said she saw a shark but we didn’t believe her at first until we actually saw one swimming quite close to them,” Mead recalled.
At first, she believed her daughter to be mistaken, thinking that the young girl had confused a seagull for a shark fin in the water. Numerous gulls were diving in the area, Mead noted, yet eventually she spotted the same shark her daughter had observed. Once she saw the shark, Mead quickly brought her daughters out of the water.
Beach goers in New Zealand were shocked to be greeted by an 8-foot shark this week. https://t.co/JzAV9LnqhM pic.twitter.com/ZU05sl00P4
— [ Shark News ] (@goinsidesharks) April 5, 2015
After the children fled the surf, a group of onlookers gathered, following the shark as it swam along the shoreline, according to the Bay of Plenty Times. It was at that point that beachgoers observed a second shark in the water nearby.
— Scuba Diving Mag (@scubadivingmag) February 24, 2015
The bronze whaler spotted by Mead and her daughter was thought to be roughly 2.5 meters in length. The species can grow to a full length of 3.3 meters (11-feet-long), and though they are known to infrequently interact with humans, bronze whalers are considered the sixth most likely species to attack unprovoked.
— Mark Absher (@MarkAbsher) February 13, 2015
Shark sightings have become an increasingly common occurrence along the New Zealand coast, as fishermen have reported a number of recent run-ins with large sharks. Several months ago, scientists recorded a record-sized grouping of juvenile white sharks in Kaipara Harbor, tagging several of the predators. Last year, a New Zealand man nearly lost his dog to a bronze whaler shark while the animal was swimming. As the Inquisitr previously noted, however, the canine was able to exit the water before the shark attacked.
The bronze whaler sharks spotted at Papamoa Beach eventually retreated into deeper water along the New Zealand coast, leaving beachgoers both excited and wary of returning to the surf.
[Image via the Daily Mail]