AUCKLAND, New Zealand — A shark possibly 14 feet long killed a swimmer near a popular New Zealand beach Wednesday, then disappeared after police attempting to save the man fired gunshots at the enormous predator.
Muriwai Beach, near Auckland, was closed after the fatal attack, one of about a dozen in New Zealand in the past 180 years.
Police recovered the body of the victim, identified as Adam Strange, a 46-year-old television and film director, the New Zealand Herald said. Strange won a Crystal Bear award for best short film at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival, according to his company’s website.
The newspaper said his family issued a statement expressing their shock and requesting privacy.
A witness who was fishing at the beach told the Herald that he saw the swimmer struggling against the huge shark.
‘‘All of a sudden there was blood everywhere,’’ Pio Mose said. ‘‘I was shaking, scared, panicked.’’
Police Inspector Shawn Rutene said Strange was about 650 feet offshore when the shark attacked. He said police went out in inflatable boats and shot at the shark, which they estimated to be 12 to 14 feet long.
‘‘It rolled over and disappeared,’’ Rutene said, without saying whether police were certain that they killed the creature.
About 200 people were at the beach at the time of the attack. Police said Muriwai and other beaches nearby are closed until further notice.
Police did not say what species of shark was involved in the attack. Clinton Duffy, a shark expert with the Department of Conservation, said New Zealand is a hot spot for great white sharks and other potentially lethal species.