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11/02/2023 Male Cape Pallister North Island NEW ZEALAND No Injury

2023 Shark Attacks the Latest Shark Attacks and Shark Attack Related Incidents which include Fatal Attacks to minor injuries bites and attacks where the person fought an aggressive shark.
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11/02/2023 Male Cape Pallister North Island NEW ZEALAND No Injury

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Shark shreds man's wetsuit from stomach to legs in lucky escape
6:11 pm on 3 November 2023

By Rachel Helyer Donaldson
A great white shark at Stewart Island.

A great white shark at Stewart Island. Photo: Supplied/ Department of Conservation - Clinton Duffy

A shark expert says a diver has had an incredibly lucky escape when he was attacked by what is believed to be a great white shark off the Wairarapa coast.

The diver was part of a commercial crew collecting pāua east of the small fishing village of Ngawi, near Cape Palliser.

Department of Conservation scientific officer Clinton Duffy said the attack happened about 9am on Thursday.

It was understood the diver had been able to yank his feet out of the shark's mouth, swim to nearby rocks, and crawl out of the water.

The man's wetsuit was reportedly shredded from his stomach to his legs.

And in his desperate efforts to escape the shark's jaws, he lost both flippers, which may or may not have gone down the animal's throat.

The diver himself declined to be interviewed, but told RNZ through an intermediary that he was OK, although still shaken.

Duffy said that reports of great white sharks in the Wairarapa ranged from small juveniles of about 2 metres long to adults up to 4.5m long.

He said the region was not a particular hotspot for the sharks, but he was not surprised there was one, given there are several seal colonies in the region.

He said great white sharks feed on seals and it was quite possible the shark mistook the diver for a seal.

Pāua Industry Council chairperson Storm Stanley said it was a sharkey time of year, being spring, and there were a lot of seal pups around.

The Ngawi Sports Fishing Club was warning people diving in the area to be cautious, and local diver Maru Te Hira told RNZ that recreational divers avoid that area.
Ngawi Sports Fishing Club on Thursday advised divers not to go near Kupe's Sail (which can be seen on the left) after a reported shark attack.

Ngawi Sports Fishing Club has warned divers not to go near Kupe's Sail (which can be seen on the left) after the reported shark attack. Photo: via Wikimedia Commons / Karora

But Tim Pankhurst, a former chief executive of Seafood New Zealand, and a recreational diver, said the only way pāua could be collected commercially on mainland New Zealand was by free diving.

This meant divers were going up and down from the seabed for six to eight hours at a time, and in their wetsuits they look like seals.

Duffy said as shocking as this reported incident was, shark attacks remained a rare event in this country.

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