Warning: Possible graphic content
The educational dissection of a shark was livestreamed on Facebook today as a way to dispel myths around the top predator and give people an inside view of the process.
Excited children crowded close to get a look at the 2.54m bronze whaler (Carcharhinus brachyurus) shark that was dissected by University of Waikato marine biologists in Tauranga this afternoon.
With a full marquee of observers as well as people watching online, masters student Mel Kellett explained how the male shark was found dead on a beach on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula last year.
It is believed to have died after being caught in a fishing net. Its body was kept and frozen so it could be used for educational purposes.
It was donated by the Department of Conservation and the Auckland Museum to the university's Coastal Marine Field Station.
The university decided to livestream the public dissection so people could get a better understanding of the species.
Kellett said only five people worldwide were killed by sharks last year.
The dissection began with a focus on the bronze whaler's external features, such as the fins, teeth, gills and skin, as well as the shark's six senses and its brain.
Kellett spoke about the shark's "olfactory lamellae", a series of skin folds in its nasal cavities.
She explained how sharks move side to side while swimming so they can tell which direction the smell of food is coming from by when the smell hits their sensory cells.
The second half of the dissection involved cutting open the body to remove the liver, and look at the stomach, kidneys, and reproductive organs.
The stomach was full of several partially digested fish, meaning it had been able to have "lunch" before being caught in the net, Kellett said.
The dissection was also part of Seaweek and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Toi Moana Happy Harbour Fun Day.
The live stream was available on the University of Waikato's Facebook page.