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Family mourns shark attack victim

Thursday 28 Feb 2013 11:18a.m.

Family mourns shark attack victim

The family of a man killed by sharks off Muriwai Beach has held an emotional karakia.

The ceremony was held on the shoreline this morning to lift the tapu off the beach.

Adam Strange, 46, died after being attacked by a shark - reportedly about 4m long - during a swim at Muriwai on Wednesday afternoon.

In a statement released through a friend today, family said they are “grieving at the loss of a glorious and great father, husband and friend.

“We are in deep shock and are still trying to contact overseas family members, so discretion and privacy would be appreciated until the family are ready to make any further statement.”

Lifeguards continue to search the ocean off west Auckland's beaches for any sign of sharks.

“We are definitely dealing with a great white pointer or two; those big fish can swim 85 to 100 kilometres in a day and by all accounts, if they’ve been attacked themselves or injured they depart the scene,” says Muriwai Surf Club chair Tim Jago.

Muriwai has been closed since the attack and will remain so today and all of tomorrow for water activities.

A larger-than-usual number of volunteer surf life savers turned up for duty this morning to help monitor other beaches along the west Auckland coast which have now reopened.

 “Everyone’s back on deck today, we did a thorough debriefing process last night, we did some critical incident counselling, just to ensure that everyone understood that they were supported,” says Mr Jago.

Police, flight paramedics, and surf lifesavers rushed to the scene of yesterday’s attack and a gun was repeatedly fired to drive the shark away.

Mr Strange was a talented filmmaker - last year winning Best Short Film at the Berlin Film Festival.

Victim was local man, father of one

Adam Strange

Filmmaker Adam Strange (Photo: Supplied)

Mr Strange had a baby daughter with his wife Meg, who was being comforted by friends and neighbours at their Muriwai home yesterday, the New Zealand Herald reports.

Mr Jago said Mr Strange was known to a number of the lifeguards, who have been offered counselling and support.

"We spent a lot of time debriefing last evening as we always do after a critical incident of this type. They're pretty experienced guards. A couple of them are quite young, but they've packed a lot of lifeguarding into their five or six years of patrolling. They're pretty good… none of us are particularly happy about what went down obviously, but they pulled through. They'll all be on the beach again today, working," he told Firstline.

Mr Strange’s short film Aphrodite's Farm won a Crystal Bear award in 2009 at the Berlin Film Festival.

A rare attack

Shark deaths are uncommon in New Zealand, with Wednesday's incident the first confirmed shark attack fatality since 1976, and Mr Jago said large sharks were not often spotted near Muriwai.

"We know they're there, we sometimes see smaller ones, but to see something this size, to see two of them at this beach pretty close in is pretty unprecedented,” he said.

"[We’ve] spent quite a bit of time getting advice from international experts on what they would recommend or do in this kind of situation because nothing like this has happened in New Zealand for 40 years, we don't have anything in the textbooks to tell us what to do."

Mr Rasmussen, a regular visitor to the beach who has lived in West Auckland for 30 years, said he was shocked.

“We’ve never seen it before,” he said.

Expert advice has suggested the shark may have been a great white pointer, and Muriwai Lifeguards are hopeful that the shark has moved on.

"The experts say no fish out here grows bigger than that unless it's a great white pointer. In terms of its behaviour, they say they can swim up to 85km in a 24-hour period. They also say if it's been injured, it will depart the area where it sustained the injury. So in a sense we're quietly confident that it's no longer here – what we don't know is how seriously injured it was yesterday when shots were fired at it, or into it, and whether it's actually dead,” said Mr Jago

"They say that there are no records of great whites performing a repeat attack, in the same place, the next day or the next week, it just doesn't happen. I guess that's a little bit of comfort for us."

3 News/NZN

 
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22-08-2014 12:00