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Surfers and others going into the sea around the Otago Peninsula are warned the shark could be in the area after a sea lion was seen with a large bite mark.
The Department of Conservation said people should exercise caution.
Doc marine ranger Jim Fyfe said an adult sea lion with flesh bitten out of its side was seen by a member of the public at Allans Beach about 4.30pm on Friday.
A photo was sent to the department's marine technical adviser, Clinton Duffy, who advised that the bite mark looked to be from a large great white shark.
“Allans Beach is popular for surfing, so we’ve been putting word out through the surfing community and we’re putting a sign in the area to make people aware that a great white shark could be in the area,” Mr Fyfe said.
“Sharks can come close to the shoreline so people heading into the water should keep a watch for sharks and be cautious.”
Mr Fyfe said the two-metre-long male had sustained a "massive injury" but had gone back into the water. It’s uncertain whether it will survive.
"We are very concerned for the health and well-being of this animal, as well as the added risk that a large predator offshore may pose."
Great white sharks are known to pass through the coastal waters around Otago Peninsula.
The great white shark population is estimated to have been stable or in slight decline since the early 2000s and the species protected under the Wildlife Act 1953. It is illegal to hunt, kill or otherwise harm great white sharks.
Other species of shark protected in New Zealand include the basking shark, the oceanic whitetip, the small tooth sandtiger (deepwater nurse shark) and the whale shark.
People can report sightings of the injured sea lion and of sharks to Doc’s 24-hour number DOC HOT (0800 362 468).
Shark sightings can also be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- ODT Online