Swimming in the harbour

Published on 12 January 2022

Oamaru harbour beach

Recently, a person swimming in the Oamaru Harbour was bitten by what is believed to be a Sevengill shark. Thankfully they were swimming with friends and the wounds sustained are now on the mend. Sevengill sharks are quite common in the harbour and fortunately, incidents of these sharks biting humans are extremely rare. This incident is a reminder to us all that whenever we enter the ocean there is a chance of encountering marine wildlife. Council cannot control this risk and would therefore ask people to exercise caution at this time when using its facilities in or around coastal waters. We would also ask people to refrain from baiting or disposing of fish carcasses etc in the water around the Holmes Wharf area as this may attract sharks.

There are many potential hazards for swimmers round our coast including sea lions, sea leopards (and recently blue-bottle jelly fish!) - but drowning remains the highest cause of recreational deaths in NZ. Recommendations from Surf Lifesaving New Zealand on staying safe in the water, including personal tips on ‘Shark Safety’ are available from the SLSNZ website: www.surflifesaving.org.nz.