Shark attacks woman walking in knee-deep water after midnight in New Zealand


A New Zealand woman is recovering after she was bitten by a shark in shallow waters, officials said Monday. 

The woman, 21, was bitten at about 2 a.m. local time on Monday, the Southern District Police said in a statement on social media. She was in “walking in knee-deep water” in an estuary in Riverton, New Zealand when the shark bit her. Police said the “time of day is a possible factor” in the incident. 

The woman, who has not been identified, suffered a “significant laceration to her leg” and received treatment from emergency responders, police said. Local publication RNZ reported that the woman was transported to Southland Hospital in serious condition. 

Police said it’s possible that the woman was attacked by a sevengill shark. These types of sharks are “present in the estuary,” the department said, and is one of New Zealand’s more common inshore sharks, according to the country’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. The shark has serrated teeth and “is a bit of a biter, and may be aggressive when provoked,” according to NIWA. It can survive in just a meter of water. 

Broadnose Sevengill Shark (Notorynchus cepedianus)
A sevengill shark. 

YIMING CHEN / Getty Images

Riverton Coastguard president Ross McKenzie told RNZ that he was surprised to hear of the incident, saying that it was the “first shark attack of that kind in the estuary” that he was aware of. However, he noted that local fishermen saw and caught sharks often while fishing off the area’s wharfs. He said that the sharks are more likely to be seen at night. 

“You would reasonably assume you’d be safe wading around in knee-deep water, but you just don’t know what’s out there and it is their environment, not ours,” McKenzie said. 

McKenzie and the police department warned visitors to the area, which is a popular holiday destination, to be cautious in the water. People should avoid late-night swims and pay attention to their environment. 

In general, shark attacks are rare, and unprovoked shark attacks have declined over the past decade, CBS News previously reported. In 2022, Australia recorded just nine unprovoked shark bites and zero unprovoked fatal attacks, according to the the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File. The file defines unprovoked bites as incidents when a human is in a shark’s natural habitat and does not provoke the shark. 

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