Zane Broadbelt and his companion Laura were walking along Harataonga Beach on the Great Barrier Island when they saw a dead whale shark.
The Department of Conservation confirmed that their staff responded to the discovery of the dead whale shark. It was an unusual find because although whale sharks migrate to New Zealand waters every year, this was the first recorded case of a shark being washed ashore in New Zealand, a Department of Conservation spokeswoman said.
Kaumatua of Ngāti Rehua Ngātiwai ki Aotea said the caracia was at the site of the find before DoC staff photographed, measured and took samples for DNA analysis and age determination.
Biologists determined that it was the carcass of a young male 7.7 meters long. A Department of Conservation spokeswoman said the carcass had been left on the beach for natural decomposition.