There are claims a great white shark that died on a beach in Auckland was deliberately caught and beaten to death.
Efforts to revive and refloat the 2.7m-long female were in vain. She was caught in a net at Orewa Beach, and though initial reports said it was an accident, Newshub has been contacted by numerous people claiming otherwise.
"The shark was purposefully caught in a net by a group of men who caught sight of the animal some time earlier," one said in an email, citing a family member who was there.
"The men proceeded to pull the shark on to the beach, repeatedly kicked it, damaged its jaw and took photos next to the dying animal, while laughing. When my family member tried to intervene the men were exceptionally intimidating and tried to prevent them from helping - police were called."
Another witness told Newshub they had "several heated conversations with the fishermen", who were "just sitting around laughing and prodding it".
When others on the beach tried to help the shark, they "didn't react well and started ridiculing us".
"Who knows how long the shark had been there, dying and getting prodded at before we all arrived. If they had acted responsibly perhaps we could have saved the shark, instead of actively choosing to let it die."
Another person sent a screenshot of a Facebook post to Newshub showing the men who allegedly caught the shark, saying they were intimidating "anyone trying to save it".
"It was caught in a set net which was illegal. Not washed up," said a fourth person who contacted Newshub.
Police, who attended the scene, told Newshub they "don't have any information on how it got there - only that is was dead, that it attracted a crowd, and that DoC attended".
They recieved multiple reports from the public, including one who said people were kicking the shark.
What the law says
Department of Conservation spokesperson Clinton Duffy says it's illegal for people to be in possession of an endangered species.
"We went out and recovered the carcass - got it in the freezer at the moment - and we'll be talking with local iwi about what should happen with it. Dead specimens like this are really valuable, scientifically."
Duffy says sharks have to swim constantly to breathe.
"Make sure there's sufficient water flowing over their gills to give them oxygen when they become entangled in a net, or they drown fairly rapidly."
It's hoped scientific evidence can be gained from it. Duffy says events like this can be the only real source of information about these species.
"Even though they're an iconic species, relatively little is known about their biology. Even though it's a really tragic accident, there's a chance we'll be able to learn a little bit more about the species from the examination of the body."