Jaws dropped at the sight of a dead school shark dumped with a mouthful of rubbish on a quiet suburban street in Dargaville.
Longtime Dargaville resident Shannon Chisholm, 30, was watching afternoon television from his couch when he heard a running engine outside his Charlotte St home last Sunday.
Curious, he went to the window and was puzzled to see a young man untying a 1.8m female school shark from the bull bar of a black ute. The man quickly discarded the carcass in the middle of the road while the driver stood supervising. The pair then drove off.
The shark's mouth was loaded with an unused cigarette alongside an empty can of bourbon and cola.
"I have lived in Dargaville for more than 20 years. I haven't seen anything like this before," Chisholm said.
"It's just stupid dumping it in a street in town - just really stupid."
Chisholm quickly removed the shark carcass from the road and buried it in his garden to avoid motorists ploughing into it as they drove around a blind corner in the street.
Waves were made online after Chisholm posted a photo of the dumped shark – also known as kapetā, tupere, tope, sand shark or soupfin shark - on a local Dargaville Facebook page.
One Facebook commentator said: "Just shocking such little respect for the environment and nature sharks have a major role in the echo system what filthy disrespectful bastards [sic]."
Whereas other users were more quick to test their wit with comments like: "Everyone saying what a waste ... it looks more sun shrivelled then me after forgetting sunblock" [sic].
Some Facebook users believed they had seen the same shark at Mahuta Gap, on Ripiro Beach south of the Baylys Beach settlement.
Department of Conservation shark expert Clinton Duffy said school sharks are very common in Northland, and New Zealand has one of the most thriving school shark populations globally. The sharks have a maximum age of around 60 years, according to Duffy, and they are found from the shore to at least 1100m depth.
However, July this year saw the school shark become listed internationally as Critically Endangered by the international scientific body, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This is due to overfishing, Duffy said.
While the culprits are yet to be netted, the dumping of a shark carcass breaches Kaipara District Council (KDC) bylaws regarding Public Safety And Nuisance as well as the Litter Act 1979.
KDC monitoring and compliance services team leader George Lewis said the council has the power to prosecute the offenders depending on evidence and whether the men could be identified.
"We would appreciate any information anyone may have regarding this incident," Lewis said.
To report incidents of illegal dumping you can contact:
Kaipara District Council - freephone: 0800 727 059
Department of Conservation - 0800 362 468
Ministry of Primary Industries - 0800 00 8383