Saturday, February 28, 2009

Huge shark is back in Taranaki waters!

It's back - a six metre great white shark dubbed the Taranaki Terror has once again returned to prowl the region's coastline.

A rash of reports have been received from boaties and yachties in recent days of sightings of the beast.

It's been spotted everywhere along the coast from the Sugar Loaf Islands to Wai-iti Beach.

Department of Conservation programme manager Bryan Williams confirmed he's been told of the arrival of the shark, and he says it'll be the one dubbed the Taranaki Terror.

The shark first hit the headlines in 2004 when it lunged at a small runabout off Waitara, leaving teethmarks in its hull. Since then, it has a been a regular summer visitor.

"We prefer to call her Mrs White, because a couple of summers ago we identified her as a female. Great whites are real creatures of habit, and she comes here every summer to feed on the seals."

New Plymouth kayaker Stephen Casey didn't care whether the big shark was female or male when he encountered it late last week he just wanted to get out of the water.

"I was heading out of Port Taranaki to go fishing, when it passed under me," he said.

"I couldn't get a real idea of its length all I know was this huge dark shape swam under my kayak when I was about halfway between the main breakwater and Moturoa Island.

"I turned round and headed straight back to the breakwater. I figured that I needed to be close to land."

Members of the New Plymouth Yacht Club reckon they might have seen it too.

Competitors in the recent national laser championships got the jitters when a very big fin was spotted on the edge of their course off the port.

Organising committee member Denny Holdt said the shark was spotted at the bottom mark of the course laid out for competitors.

"It was at least as big as my boat, and it had a big fin sticking out of the water," said Mr Holdt, who was in a patrol boat.

"The shark was exactly where the competitors were jibing to come around.

"So we hung around there just in case someone ended up in the water and we didn't tell anybody about the shark until after the racing."

Club commodore Mark Hatch said another big fin was seen just off the port entrance on Saturday.

"We're not sure if it was the actual shark, but we've certainly seen some big fins," he said.

And now that the Taranaki Terror is back in town, everyone seems united in a single plea leave it alone.

Mr Williams said great white sharks have been fully protected since 2007.

This means it is illegal to target them within 200 nautical miles of New Zealand's shores or to fish for them in New Zealand-flagged boats on the high seas.

Punishments can reach a $250,000 fine or six months in jail.


Post a Comment

<< Home