An underwater videographer and fisherman say he saw sharks in New Zealand waters more than 10 years ago.
Luke Potts from Whangaparāoa dives off the coast of Te Arai in North Auckland, Leigh and Cape Rodney about once a week, and posts spearfishing explanatory videos on his Youtube channel Spear Water Rehabilitation.
Potts said that this season he saw more sharks than ever before, sometimes between 6 and 12 per dive, a gradual increase he also noticed by looking at video footage from 10 years ago.
“It’s inevitable,” he said, adding that he would always see a shark when diving off the east coast, anywhere from Tauranga to the top of the North Island.
His comments were echoed by commercial fishermen in Tauranga who said legislation banning shark fins protected the species, making watching sharks – especially great eggs – more common in Plenty Bay than before.
Last week 19 years Kayla Marlow He was killed in Boyntown, near Waihi Beach in Plenty Bay, in a suspected shark attack.
The beaches of Coromandel and Bay of Plenty have been on high alert for the week since then, with “continuous sightings of sharks” reported in the waters near Pawanoy.
Dan Harvey, fishing captain of Plenty Bay, says he sees more sharks every day. He says this is likely due to legislation banning shark finning.
Shark fins ensured that fishermen harvested the fins and dumped the animal’s carcass overboard which allowed them to quickly harvest the animals.
This practice can devastate shark populations.
“Apart from some elusive cash deals people used to do on the side, the ban has eliminated the New Zealand shark fin market,” he said.
“Nobody is targeting sharks anymore. Meat is not valuable, and without fins, there is no market for it.”
Harvey says that increasing numbers of sharks are likely to be spotted near shores as people swim – and that people need to be more aware of that when in the water.
Arthur Hurr, Acting Director of the Fisheries Department at the Ministry of Primary Industries, said it is difficult to assess the number of sharks due to the nature of the species’ migration.
“However, we believe that since the ban on shark fin came into effect in 2014, some shark populations are likely to improve,” he said.
Potts added that the sea appeared to be warmer sooner than usual and that it saw a greater presence of sharks very early in the season – 99 percent of whalers were bronze.
Sometimes kingfish hunting was difficult, as sharks learned to recognize spearfishing as an easy meal source. Sometimes, at least two sharks are competing for the Potts crop.
“They all know where all the foods are, once they have the food they learn.”
He didn’t know for sure why he had seen more sharks, but he wondered if the numbers had returned to normal levels since the sharks were killed by a processing plant operating off Kauao Island between 1900 and 1902.
“ If they really give them a big towel, they understand [shark populations] Really can go down. “
Butts, who spent “hundreds” of hours interacting with sharks, said people should not be spooked by them.
“For me, seeing a shark is just as natural as seeing a coral reef.”
There is no indication of a population boom among sharks, said Clinton Duffy, a conservation marine scientist and shark expert, adding that there is no reason to kill fewer sharks this year than others.
The number of reports of shark sightings was also “very typical”.
However, he has heard of the ability of bronze whalers to recognize the possibility of easy feeding when spear hunters are around.
Duffy said that bronze whale hunters have come close to shore to give birth in around October until around February.
There were no “good data” on the abundance, or deficiency, of sharks to critically examine, because such studies were of low economic value.
“They don’t attract a lot of research funding.”
A marine biologist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Eric Lyon, said a “sudden” increase in sharks was unlikely this year, as any gradual increase would occur over several years.
This was because it took more than seven years for sharks to reach sexual maturity and produce offspring.
“It could take years to get a population change of this size.”
He says fishing changes could lead to an increase, among other factors.
“If commercial fishermen used to catch a type of fish and it no longer is, then there must be an increase in some places,” he said.
Rising sea temperatures could also speed up shark pregnancy. While human bodies remain within a certain temperature range, the physiological and internal actions of a shark depend on the temperature of the water.
For example, sharks in warm waters can grow and give birth after eight months, while sharks can take 11 months in cold waters.
He suggested that Potts may have been a dive in “really shark spots,” where the ocean was a naturally variable environment and it was difficult to determine whether a shark would be in a particular place at any time.
“if it was [a good spot] For the javelin hunter, good for the shark, “added Leon.
“Sometimes there can be a lot of sharks somewhere and then you can go the next day and there won’t be any.”