A whole school of "baby sharks" have appeared in the shallows of Wellington's oriental bay.
To the delight of paddlers at the city beach, they appear to be harmless. Over the past 24 hours social media has been awash with photos of the small fish at the waterfront. ( Accompanied by gleeful renditions of the 2016 hit Baby Shark - "doo doo doo doo".)
However, naturalists have been quick to point out that the small-finned fish are not babies, but fully grown rig shark.
The species are completely harmless to humans. In fact they are more readily recognised as "lemon fish", when served battered and deep fried with chips.
Most likely they have come to the shallows to feed on crabs and crustaceans, according to Niwa fisheries. Using electromagnetic sensors on the underside of their nose, rig shark swim low to the ground to detect their prey.
While the sharks are placid, DOC has asked bathers to let the fish swim undisturbed.
"People should be pleased to see them," says DOC shark expert, Clinton Duffy.
"They're an indicator that the harbour is in reasonable health – the species of shellfish and crustaceans they prefer to feed on are among the first species to disappear from heavily polluted soft sediments."
Though harmless, DOC advises bathers to give rig sharks space and not to "touch or chase them."
"When animals get scared they can become aggressive to protect themselves."
Wellington is currently under Covid Alert Level 2, meaning beach goers should be practicing social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.
You might want to respect the rig sharks' desire to distance, as well.
Please report all shark sightings to 0800 DOCHOT and/or contact email@example.com