A 1.8m shark, believed to be a bronze whaler, has died on a beach on Auckland's North Shore after a failed attempt to refloat it.

A Devonport local was walking on Narrow Neck Beach at around 7.30am this morning when he took a photo of the dead shark.

"Someone attempted to refloat it earlier but it washed back up and died," said the man, who did not want to be named.

"There was no physical marks on it or hook marks in its mouth, so I'm not sure how it ended up there."

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The Department of Conservation (DOC) has been informed about what happened, he said.

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National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) principal scientist Dr Malcolm Francis said bronze whaler sharks are one of the largest reef sharks and also one of the most abundant large shark species in NZ coastal waters.

They can grow up to three metres long, but on average are between 1.5 and 2.5m in length.

"They are not normally aggressive towards humans, although spear fishers have been bitten by excited sharks," Francis said on the institute's website.

"However, they are opportunistic eaters which mean that they will eat live or dead animal matter."

Francis said sightings increased in the summer months.

"Partly because more New Zealanders head to the beach in summer, but also because they come into warmer waters to chase fish or give birth to their young," Francis added.

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A DOC spokeswoman said the shark has been picked up and sent to Massey University for research purposes.