Attack on boy prompts shark watch
Email this storyPrint this story Tuesday December 12, 2006
By Simon O'Rourke
Elliot Paerata-Reid says he will be back surfing once his injury has healed. Photo / Martin Sykes
Extra precautions will be in place at one of the country's premier surfing spots today after a shark bit a 10-year-old boy at Manu Bay.
Elliot Paerata-Reid, son of TV3 presenter Melanie Reid, was surfing with his father Jamarl Paerata about 11am yesterday when they say a shark came up and snapped at the boy's foot.
"I thought it was a rock at first, then it just came up and bit me," Elliot said.
He became frightened when the water around him started to turn red.
Mr Paerata, who was in the water with Elliot, said:
"I just thought it was a sort of a nudge, but I heard Elliot say 'Get out, get out.' I said to him, 'It's just a small one' but it rolled over and took off, and then I saw blood coming out of his foot."
Experienced Raglan surfers were stunned that a shark came in close enough to bite the boy.
And Raglan Surf Life Saving club captain Jennifer Snowden said extra precautions would be in place this morning while she decided whether formal beach warnings would be needed.
Mr Paerata said the shark was about the same size as Elliot. He described it as grey with darker grey spots on its white belly.
Clinton Duffy, a Department of Conservation scientist, said: "I'm unaware of any attacks in the last 10 years at Raglan, but nationally we average about two attacks a year."
Mrs Reid saw the drama unfolding from the water's edge and heard her son screaming.
She said about 20 people were in the water at the time.
Mr Paerata said his son had suffered cuts to the base and top of the foot, which had been stitched. Elliot will be on crutches until the wound heals.
Yesterday at Manu Bay top surfer Daniel Kereopa said he had never seen a shark at Manu Bay or Whale Bay although metre-long dogfish (a small form of shark) were seen from time to time.
"It's a pretty uncanny thing to have happened. I hope the kid doesn't get freaked out.
"It's a timely reminder to respect the water and to look after it. There's got to be a good reason why they [sharks] are coming in so close, they're wanting food that maybe isn't available further out."
Another surfer said if he had known about the reported presence of a shark he would not have gone for a surf.
"It's always murky out here and you never see them."
Jennifer Snowden said she had spoken to the doctor who had treated Elliott later in the day.
"She [the doctor] said it looks like he was bitten by a shark."
Guards would be extra vigilant this morning when scanning the surf and would speak to experienced water users such as fishermen and surfers about reporting any sightings, Ms Snowden said.
Meanwhile Elliot, who lives at Piha with his parents, said it was "a bit of a shame" the summer had got off to such a frightening start, but promised he would be back surfing once the injury had healed.
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