Dismembered Great White Shark Found on Beach May Have Been Killed for Meat

The gruesome remains of a dismembered great white shark have been spotted on a beach in New Zealand.

Local non-profit organization White Shark Conservation Trust (WSCT) posted an image of the dead animal—a juvenile—over the weekend.

The non-profit said the shark appeared to have stab wounds to the head, indicating that it was killed after it was brought to shore at Pilot Bay, Tauranga—located on New Zealand's North Island.

"Someone must have seen the shark being caught or cut up," WSCT said in a Facebook post accompanying the photo.

"This act is illegal on a number of accounts—killing of a protected species and being in possession of parts of a white shark. These are prosecutable offences and we urge anyone who knows anything about this to report their information to the Department of Conservation or Ministry of Primary Fisheries."

The individual who took the picture, Helen Ahern, wrote in a comment below the Facebook post that several people had spotted the shark on the beach before she took the picture.

Ahern said someone had made a clean cut to remove the head but left the pectoral fins and innards still intact. The underside fins had been "filleted" off and were found nearby, according to Ahern.

The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) is now investigating the incident.

Clinton Duffy, a shark expert from the department, told the New Zealand Herald that the clean cut on the body suggested some parts of the animal had been taken to be eaten.

"It looks like the rest of the body has been taken for meat," he said.

This image was taken today at Pilot Bay, Tauranga. This is a juvenile white shark that appears to have been killed to consume. The shark has what appears to be stab wounds to the head indicating it...

"If it was killed for sport, they would have taken the jaw as a trophy," Duffy told 1 NEWS.

The shark expert said it is illegal in New Zealand to retain any part of a great white, even if the animal was found dead.

It is illegal to intentionally catch a great white, but not to accidentally catch one. In the latter case, the shark must be released back into the water alive and unharmed.

Under the country's Wildlife Act, great whites are a protected species. The penalties for hunting, killing, or harming the animals are a fine of up to NZ$ 250,000 (around $180,000) and/or up to two years in jail.

Globally, the great white shark population is considered "vulnerable," Duffy told the New Zealand Herald.

Around 750 adult great whites and 12,000 juveniles move back and forth in the waters between New Zealand and the east coast of Australia.

A great white shark
Stock image showing a great white shark underwater. A dismembered great white has been found on a beach in New Zealand. iStock