Fishermen haul in great white shark

By Simon O'Rourke

She was only a juvenile but the great white shark caught in a net off Raglan was a monster.

And a hungry one at that.

An autopsy yesterday showed the female shark, with a 3.4m girth, had an intact 90kg fur seal inside its stomach.

The shark, which became tangled up in commercial fisherman Warrick Harris' set-net, was brought in to Raglan Harbour on The Reaper late on Wednesday night.

After cutting off the shark's head and tail, a 10-tonne front-end loader was used to transport the carcass for weighing at the Raglan Sport Fishing Club.

"Even then it blew the scales. It wasn't even off the deck," said Raglan Hotel owner Jeff Holloway.

"That'll keep the boys on their toes," he added, a reference to the contest starting today involving four of the world's best surfers at Raglan's Manu Bay.

Mr Harris said he knew there was something different when he was pulling in his set-net, 11km northwest of Raglan.

"It was like a tug of war. The rope had done a half-hitch around its head and got tangled up a bit.

"If it had shown signs of life we probably would have let it go.

"It certainly looked like Jaws when we first saw it."

Mr Harris said the marine monster probably went a long way to explaining the fall in numbers of rare Hector dolphins - which had been blamed on commercial fishermen.

"Hector dolphins would be Mellow-puffs to something like that," he said.

Mr Harris was keeping the jaws, which he estimated could be worth up to $20,000.

Department of Conservation marine scientist Clinton Duffy said the most fascinating aspect of the shark was its young age in comparison to its size.

The exact age would be known after bone analysis, but it was safe to say it was relatively young, as the uterus and eggs in its ovaries had not fully developed.

Two weeks ago, Mr Duffy and a Niwa biologist examined a male great white caught near the Chatham Islands that weighed 853kg.

He said two great whites caught within a fortnight of each other did not mean there was an increased prevalence of sharks in New Zealand waters.

There were between 10-12 sightings of great whites a year.

"This year has been no different to the last 10 years or so," said Mr Duffy.

Globally the species were thought to be threatened, he said.

Yesterday, a surfing class at Raglan Area School listened as world surfing icons Andy Irons, Sunny Garcia, Joel Parkinson and Mark Occhilupo considered what they would meet in Raglan's waters.

"It's at the back of my head. I heard they caught a really big one out here," Irons said.

"You've got to always make sure you keep close to the rocks."

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