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No increase in sharks at beaches despite increased sightings — Surf Life Saving NZ

Surf Life Saving NZ's Allan Mundy says lifeguards haven't noticed an increase in sharks this summer, despite more being reported by the public.

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Surf Life Saving NZ's Allan Mundy says their lifeguards haven't noticed an increase in sharks, despite more being reported by the public. Source: Breakfast

Since Kaelah Marlow, 19, died in a shark attack at Waihi Beach earlier this month, there's been a flurry of beaches temporarily closed due to shark sightings and other reports on social media.

However, Mundy says that doesn't appear to mean more sharks are actually at the beaches.

"Our lifeguards certainly aren't seeing more sharks," he told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning.

"Our guys are constantly looking out into the water, that's their job.... So if there's a shark, we're going to see it."

Mundy says more people have been at the beaches in the hot weather, with travel overseas still largely restricted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It means more eyes looking for sharks, especially with the heightened awareness of Marlow's death.

"What we do know is [the] water's been really clear right through this Christmas period up to just this last weekend, so the ability to see sharks is a lot easier."

If people do spot a shark while they're swimming, whether at a patrolled beach or an isolated one, Mundy says people should stay calm and exit the water slowly if they're concerned.

"If you can see a shark, the shark would've seen you, would've sensed you, a long time ago," Mundy says.

"And if it was sinister, things would've gone down. We know most of the sharks, a huge proportion of them, are just basking." 

Aside from the increased shark reports, Mundy says Surf Life Saving has been seeing "really good" beach behaviour from members of the public.

"Our beach rescues are down and we encourage people to keep talking to the lifeguards, swimming between the flags, and helping us help them."