Large numbers of bronze whaler sharks have been spotted cruising close to shore – and unsuspecting swimmers – at a Coromandel beach in recent weeks.

It’s just one of dozens of shark sightings around the country this summer.

And they’re not the only species getting up close and personal, with a tiger shark seen paying a visit to a group of Northland fishermen.

On Wednesday, swimmers were forced to evacuate after a shark was spotted 50 metres from the flags at Omaha Beach, north of Auckland.

“Just like us, they’re coming in to rest, they’re coming in to sunbathe,” shark expert Riley Elliot explained.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand on Wednesday recorded 42 first-hand shark sightings across the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty over two weeks. It’s unknown how the figure compares to the same time last year.

But there’s no need to panic. Experts say most of the sharks in our waters won’t hurt you – if they’re left alone.

“It’s kinda like looking under the bed for the bogeyman and he’s actually there,” Elliot said.

He said it was clear through footage of the bronze whalers that they “want nothing to do with a man and his speedos”.

Department of Conservation marine biologist Clinton Duffy said while “most sharks in New Zealand are less than a metre and a half long and therefore relatively harmless”, sharks measuring “over a metre and a half up to 1.8 metres long, you should treat as potentially dangerous unless you know what it is and how sharks behave”.

To stay safe this summer, people have been urged to avoid swimming in areas where people fish, and to avoid swimming at dawn or dusk when sharks are feeding.

More sightings could be on the way, with waters not expected to reach their peak temperature until mid-February.

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