Dozens of sharks spotted off Matarangi, Coromandel, including bronze whalers and hammerheads

Aerial photos have revealed dozens of mature sharks patrolling a Coromandel beach.

Whitianga resident Philip Hart captured the incredible images, some of which show dozens of bronze-whalers – measuring about 2.5 metres – and even half a dozen hammerheads in the sparkling waters just off Matarangi Beach.

Hart and several friends own small aeroplanes, and around this time of year like to take friends up into the skies to view the spectacular coastline.

They’ve learned that always around this time of year sharks tend to congregate near the Whangapoua Harbour mouth on the outgoing tide, waiting for a feed.

“Once it warms up and the sun is shining we usually see them,” Hart told the Herald.

“They are beautiful creatures.”

The sightings continue a busy summer so far for sharks in New Zealand.

Tragically last week 19-year-old Hamilton woman Kaelah Marlow was killed by a shark while swimming at the Bowentown end of Waihī Beach.

At the weekend Pāuanui Beach in the Coromandel was closed and swimmers ordered out of the water after up to three sharks were sighted.

Hart said he had not noticed anything unusual about shark activity.

“Not any more than usual for this time of year.”

Although they normally only see bronze whalers, which are not known to be very aggressive nor to attack people, Hart said it was quite special to spot about half a dozen equally-docile mature hammerhead sharks.

“It’s the first time we’ve seen that many, full-size hammerheads.”

Despite most species of sharks being totally harmless to humans sharks frighten many people. Worldwide, shark attacks kill about 25 people a year.

Clinton Duffy, a marine scientist at the Department of Conservation, previously told the Herald many people had the mistaken perception sharks were uncommon in New Zealand.

They were not.

However, attacks were uncommon – he counted just 14 fatal attacks since 1840 – but people should always swim between the flags, and never alone at a non-patrolled beach.

“For the most part, sharks are completely uninterested in humans, I’ve seen them myself swimming past people … taking no interest at all.”

Commercial fisheries on the other hand, kill up to 100 million sharks worldwide each year.

In New Zealand certain species come under the quota management system.

Great white sharks/mangō taniwha are absolutely protected within the Territorial Sea and Exclusive Economic Zone (within 200nm of New Zealand) and aboard New Zealand vessels fishing in international waters.

Targeted commercial fishing of basking sharks and bronze whalers is prohibited but they may be landed as bycatch.

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