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Family 'in deep shock' as victim identified

Published: 2:01PM Wednesday February 27, 2013 Source: ONE News

The family of the man killed in a shark attack at Muriwai Beach on Auckland's west coast say they are "in deep shock."

Husband and father of one Adam Strange died after being attacked while swimming from Maori Bay around a headland into Muriwai, around 200m offshore.

"The family are grieving the loss of a glorious and great father, husband and friend," a family said in a statement to ONE News.

"We are in deep shock," they said.

The award winning commercials and short film director was a local. On his website Adamstrange.tv he wrote about his love of the outdoors.

"When I get a spare five minutes, I like to make a fruit smoothy, surf some big waves out on the West Coast, point my skis down a mountain with Meg, haul my mountain bike up and down a few hills, drink some Pinot while scratching away at a film script," it says on his website.

Witnesses tell of attack

Fisherman Pio Mosie said he was sitting on the rocks and had watched a man swim past him before the attack happened.

"He yelled out 'a shark!' and we looked up and there was blood everywhere and the shark was attacking him," he told TV ONE's Seven Sharp.

"Then the shark stopped and we yelled at him to swim to the rock, and he raised his hand up, but as soon as he raised his hand up the shark pulled him down. When he came up his head was down and now we know he was dead."

Mosie said he saw the attack unfold from around 50 metres away, and as blood covered the sea more sharks started swimming around the area.

Aerial searches, beaches to re-open

Aerial searches will be used in the search for the shark which was shot at by a police officer, possibly more than once.

However it is not clear whether it has been killed.

"We do not know at this stage if he hit the shark, but the shark rolled off and disappeared," Inspector Shawn Rutene said.

Neighbouring beaches were closed for some time and helicopter searches will take place tomorrow morning to try and locate the shark.

ONE News has been informed all beaches will re-open to the public other than Muriwai tomorrow.

"It was a shark of around 12-14 (3.5 - 4 metres) long and it was very broad as described by staff members," Rutene said.

"An eyewitness in the Rib said there were possibly two sharks there at the time."

Great White Sharks had been sighted in the area as recently as the weekend, but the breed of the attacker has not yet been determined.

"This is one out of the hat for us I don't think anyone's seen anything this big at this beach ever," Chairman of the Muriwai Surf Lifesaving service Tim Jago said.

It was the surf lifeguards who found the man's body, and the sharks still circling around, "It was a case of standing off for a while, we needed to put a bit of a plan in place," Jago said.

The shark eventually gave up its prey after the police officer shot at it, and the body was returned to the shore.

Great White suspicion

Dr Malcolm Francis, a NIWA Principal Scientist who studies sharks, said based on the reports it is likely the attack was by a Great White Shark.

He said there are few other species that grow to 3.5 metres long.

He said Great Whites are known in the area and it is likely the shark mistook the person swimming as a seal.

Shark expert Mike Bhana agreed a Great White is likely to be responsible for the attack.

"It's either going to be a group of Bronze Whalers, because I heard there were multiple sharks there, or a Great White, either way they're the sort of sharks we see on this coast," he told Seven Sharp.

"It is an incredibly rare event the last fatality in New Zealand I think was 1975, so it's something we're unlikely to see in a very long time again."

There have been 44 shark attacks recorded in New Zealand since 1847, 11 of them fatal. While most attacks involved Great White Sharks, mako and bronze whalers also have been known to cause fatal injuries.

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