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How to stay safe with sharks lurking in New Zealand's waters over summer

As sure as sunburn and barbeques, shark sightings have become a familiar part of the New Zealand summer. But fears about the animal has experts jumping to their defence, who are eager to bust some common myths.

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There appears to be a higher than usual number of shark sightings in New Zealand waters this summer. Source: 1 NEWS

While taking aim at a school of kingfish near Omaha, north of Auckland, spear fisherman Anton Oleinik became a target himself.

"It suddenly felt like something is holding onto my knee, and I look down and a big head is attached to my knee, and I got a bit of a fright," he told 1 NEWS.

Mr Oleinik scrambled for the rocks but he left his GoPro in the water, which recorded two large adult bronze whalers after his catch.

He wasn't injured, but Andrew "Nugget" Brough wasn't so lucky when a great white interrupted his surf near Dargaville in Northland.

The 3.5 metre-long creature left three teeth lodged inside his arm, which required 64 stitches.

"It wasn't like it was attacking me to kill me... They get curious," Mr Brough told 1 NEWS.

"It's obviously bit me, felt the surfboard, realised it was a mistake and carried on."

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A ban on shark diving in Foveaux Strait has been overturned. Source: Seven Sharp

Mr Brough was back surfing two months later and Mr Oleinik is back fishing too.

"You're in the water, you're in their home," Mr Brough says.

"People see sharks every single day. How many get attacked?"

That's the attitude shark experts hope all Kiwis will adopt this summer.

"You're more likely to be killed by Christmas lights than by sharks. You're more likely to be killed by a falling vending machine, than by sharks," Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium's Maddy Seaman told 1 NEWS.

"Across the world, sharks kill about six people a year. But humans kill 100 million sharks a year on average.

"We are a lot more worrying to sharks, than sharks are to us."

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Witnesses say fishermen disrupted beachgoers who were trying to save the young shark, and that it was kicked and treated disrespectfully. Source: 1 NEWS

Bronze whalers, hammerheads, sevengills and the occasional great white frequent New Zealand waters.

Warmer ocean temperatures mean more tropical species like tiger and Galapagos sharks could visit too.

"I think a lot of people's fear and misunderstandings come from movies like Jaws… [or] just being a creature of the deep," Ms Seaman says.

"The ocean is something that we don't really understand very much about."  

Ms Seaman says it's important to be respectful of sharks and keep your distance, but they don't want to eat us.

"They are just curious creatures. The way they investigate things is to come and have a look."

And for curious humans, Ms Seaman says people should just exercise common sense.

"If you feel uncomfortable, just get out. You don't need to stay there."

The message from experts is that you shouldn't let sharks stop you from enjoying the water - just remember, it's their place, not yours.