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'Incredibly rare': Northland man finds two dead sharks on morning walk

Author
Avneesh Vincent,
Publish Date
Tue, 5 Dec 2023, 3:37PM
One of the two dead sharks found by Waipū resident Stuart Knights on Uretiti Beach.
One of the two dead sharks found by Waipū resident Stuart Knights on Uretiti Beach.

'Incredibly rare': Northland man finds two dead sharks on morning walk

Author
Avneesh Vincent,
Publish Date
Tue, 5 Dec 2023, 3:37PM

A Waipū resident’s routine morning stroll with his dogs and daughter along Uretiti Beach led them to discover the bodies of two large dead bronze whalers.

Department of Conservation (DoC) officials identified the 2m-long sharks, which are a common species of shark around the coastal waters of Northland.

Local Stuart Knights said around 7.30am he caught sight of what appeared to be “fishing torpedoes”. But on his daughter’s insistence they went for a closer look and discovered the marine creatures lying lifeless with their mouths wide open.

“We love seeing the birds and sea life during our walks. And these two sharks on the beach caught us by surprise.”

Marine scientist and shark expert Clinton Duffy said spotting dead bronze whalers at this time of year was not uncommon.

“Every year, we have several such sharks get caught by fishermen, who either discard them into the sea or dump them on the beaches.

“It’s incredibly rare for sharks to get stranded, with some exceptions like when sharks inhale toxic algal bloom or eat fish with such toxins which kills them and lands them ashore.”

Duffy said bronze whalers did not pose any threat to swimmers who wanted to take a dip this summer.

He said such sharks were predominantly fish eaters and fed on stingrays and schooling fishes, as they had narrow upper teeth.

This wasn’t the first time Knights had come across marine creatures during his walks.

This September, he found a dead turtle while he was walking his North American labradors along the beach.

“Most recently I and my friend helped a trapped shearwater that had a fishing line and a couple of hooks wrapped around its wings while the other was in his throat.”

Avneesh Vincent is the crime and emergency services reporter at the Advocate. He was previously at the Gisborne Herald as the arts and environment reporter and is passionate about covering stories that can make a difference. He joined NZME in July 2023.

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