Massey University researchers have shared amazing footage of a great white shark playing with their underwater filming gear near the Kermadec Islands.
The shark in the video is a 4m-long male named "Kermit" and can be seen picking up the camera rig from the ocean floor multiple times before dropping it again.
The team of researchers was in the area as part of their work for project Global Fin Print.
Dr Adam Smith, who led the expedition, said the shark encounter left the team "buzzing".
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"When the gear is on the seabed, we don't have a live feed so we have no idea what we're going to see when we review the footage at the end of the day. The most common sharks were grey and whitetip reef sharks, but we also encountered tiger sharks, hammerheads, and some very obnoxious octopus," he said.
"Getting the great white at the end of the trip was a definitely a highlight though, especially considering they've only been recorded at the Kermadecs a few times before. It's likely that some great whites stopover while migrating between NZ and the tropics, like humpback whales do.
"The shark calmly circled the bait for a few minutes before approaching the gear and giving it a few 'curiosity bites'. It then effortlessly picked up the entire BRUV set, swam with it up to the surface, and then dropped it back to the sea floor. It did this a total of three times, before losing interest and swimming off."
The researchers say they were discouraged with the low number of sharks spotted in the locations they visited.
"We were happy to see large numbers of sharks on some submerged banks in the tropics, and New Zealand's Kermadec Islands, but there were surprisingly few in many other locations, probably due to overfishing," the researched said.
The Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) project aims to quantify patterns in fish biodiversity, as well as better understand New Zealand's marine ecosystems in a regional context.