Martin Stehlik of the Czech Republic was visiting his uncle in New Zealand, but during a visit to Ruakaka Beach beach on Feb. 27, he came face-to-face with a bigeye thresher shark.
Stehlik’s uncle, George Plesky, told the Northern Advocate:
It was just so strange and we'd never seen anything like it before, with its long tail and it's big, black eyes. It was very unusual. Martin thought it might be a shark that isn't seen here often. He's going to go away with some very good memories of his time here.
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Clinton Duffy, the Department of Conservation’s shark expert, said the find was unusual. "They're quite common but rarely seen due to their offshore habits,” he explained. "They feed on small schooling fishes and squid. Very little is known of the species' biology in New Zealand. New Zealand game fishers hold most, if not all of the world records for this species.”
The Northern Advocate reported later that they were unable to determine the shark’s cause of death. Duffy and Andrew Forsythe from Ruakaka Surf Lifesaving Club examined the shark, but they were only able to learn the basics about that specimen. "The shark was a mature male and was [about 12.7 feet] long, of which [approximately six feet] was the upper lobe of the tail," Duffy said.
“According to Andrew it washed up on Thursday afternoon. There was no obvious cause of death, i.e., no sign of a hook, or net marks.”
The bigeye thresher sharks are found in warm and tropical waters around the globe, and it’s known for its distinctive eyes, which allow the shark to see in poor light conditions, aiding in hunting. The shark typically avoids humans and poses no danger.