The great white shark which was caught and released off the coast at Waimarama has become an online sensation.

Last Sunday two Hawke's Bay fishermen were shocked to discover the ocean's apex predator entangled in their cray pot.

The story of the unexpected catch has been shared more than a thousand times on social media and was picked up by the Daily Mail UK.

Last night it was the top story on the hawkesbaytoday.co.nz website and had reached more than 62,000 people on the Hawke's Bay Today Facebook page.

Advertisement

George Eivers and his brother-in-law Daniel McDonald were enjoying an afternoon fish between Bare Island and Waimarama last Sunday afternoon.

As they hauled up their cray pot they noticed what they thought was a dolphin caught in the line.

It wasn't until they reached shore and checked the photos they realised what they had actually caught.

"We sent the photos to DoC, who confirmed it was a great white." The pair estimated the shark to be about 2 metres in length.

The men have received calls from friends all over the world who have read their story.

They have since gone on to appear on TV One's Seven Sharp to tell their tale.

"There were a few cringeworthy moments," Mr Eivers said. "We weren't overly keen for the limelight but when they flew the crew from Auckland it was hard to say 'no'."

He said the incident still feels surreal. "We were pretty relaxed about the whole thing at the time but in hindsight I guess it could have ended worse."

Advertisement

Mr Eivers, a keen spearfisherman, said he might leave the speargun at home and stay on the boat in the next few weeks. "It's all well that ends well, the shark survived and we are still in one piece."