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Researching the biology of great white sharks

Researching the biology of great white sharks

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Tom Trnski Head of Natural Sciences, examines the mouth of the Great White Shark.

Photo: Lee Jacques. 2014.© Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira.

A great white shark dissection took place at Auckland Museum led by Head of Natural Sciences Tom Trnski and Department of Conservation Technical Advisor Marine Clinton Duffy.

The shark was found dead on Monday off the coast of New Plymouth, by a fisherman who called the Department of Conservation and the shark was subsequently offered to the Museum for its collection.

Before the necropsy took place a special Karakia was performed to wish the spirit of the shark to reside back in the sea where it came from.

The shark was an immature male approximately 2.5 metres long weighing 155kg. Male sharks mature at 18-20 years and are smaller than the female of the species.

3D scans will be taken of the shark along with samples of the vertebrae, liver and muscles for further research as well as samples of parasites residing on or within the shark.

Researchers hold a worm found in the shark's gut.

Photo: Lee Jacques. 2014.© Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira.

Close inspection showed seal bites to its nose area along with distinctive markings which are unique to each individual shark. These will be matched to DOC’s databases from research photographs taken at sea.

Close inspection showed seal bites to the shark's nose. Sharks of this specimen's age don't normally prey on seals.

Photo: Lee Jacques. 2014.© Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Fishermen are required to release great whites on capture as they are a protected species.

“This was a gift from the sea. Sharks are so vulnerable because of their lifecycle and being targeted by fishers or caught inadvertedly. The research we’ll be able to carry out will allow us to learn more about shark conservation,” says Trnski.

View all the photos on Flickr

  • Post by: Auckland Museum

    Auckland War Memorial Museum tells the story of New Zealand, its people, and their place in the Pacific.

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