Police helicopters will tonight monitor a West Auckland beach where sharks attacked and killed a swimmer this afternoon.
Beachgoers could only watch as the sharks surrounded the victim at Maori Bay - at the south end of Muriwai.
The victim, Adam Strange, was a well known and popular member of the Muriwai community - he was heavily involved with the Muriwai surf club and was often seen at the beach.
Surf club chairman Tim Jago says he lost his life training for a long distance harbour swim.
“[He was] out here swimming, just on the beach, “says Mr Jago. “We only had the opening of our new surf lifesaving building on Saturday and he had played a large part in the fundraising for that. He had spearheaded the first large community fundraiser for it. He was there bold as brass enjoying what he had helped achieve so it’s tinged with sadness.”
Pictures captured by a Westpac Rescue Helicopter show a shark near the area where the Mr Strange was viciously killed.
Pio Mose was fishing when he saw a shark approach the swimmer.
“He yelled out shark and the next minute there was blood, blood everywhere,” says Mr Mose.
Then witnesses say they saw other sharks join in.
“He was attacked in a circle and this poor guy.. in maybe 5 minutes he lost strength, so he just floated. We just stood there and the whole surroundings was crimson,” says witness Christian Rusmussen.
An armed police officer took to the water onboard a surf lifesaving boat and saw at least two sharks, the biggest around four metres long.
He opened fire but could not confirm whether it had been killed.
“He has discharged his firearm towards the shark. We do not know at this stage if we have hit the shark but the shark rolled off and disappeared,” says Auckland metro shift commander Inspector Shawn Rutene.
Fatal shark attacks are extremely rare in New Zealand and shark expert Craig Thorburn says on average there's been one every 20 years.
Mr Thorburn believes today’s attack would most probably have involved great white sharks.
“Great whites are inquisitive, they like to explore large things or large animals who are floating in the water so it could easily have come along and bitten on this object just to see what it is.”
Muriwai and surrounding beaches have been closed, and while some beaches are expected to open in the morning Muriwai will be off limits until at least Friday.