Great white shark opened up to the public

Last updated 14:02 08/01/2009
MICHAEL FIELD/Fairfax Media
INSIDES OUT: Department of Conservation shark expert Clinton Duffy poking around the shark's stomach.
MICHAEL FIELD/Fairfax Media
Face to face with a great white.
MICHAEL FIELD/Fairfax Media
A BIT FISHY: Some children inspect the shark at Auckland Museum.
MICHAEL FIELD/Fairfax Media
LAID OPEN: The great white shark at Auckland Museum.

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Hundreds of people gathered outside the Auckland Museum in the sweltering heat today to see the gory dissection of one of nature's greatest predators.

Eleven-year-old Kurt Russell caught the 10 foot long (three metre), 300 kilogram great white shark with his father Duan in the Kaipara Harbour 10 days ago.

"We like sharks... our family has a lot of respect for them because they're wild", he said.

"We also respect them because we don't want them to eat us."

Auckland Museum marine scientist Dr Tom Trnski said this was the first time in New Zealand that an autopsy had been performed before such a large crowd.

The dissection has attracted mass media attention from around the world, with a live podcast being beamed to international websites this morning.

The large shark was moved with a forklift to be displayed to the large, expectant crowd seated on bleachers outside the museum.

A steady stream of onlookers trundled past the dead shark, small children stopping to pat its battle-scarred nose.

Paul Morris, from Dive Planet NZ, helped slowly wash away the blood tricking from the shark on the dissection table.

He was attacked by a great white shark in 2005, and ever since, he says, has been fascinated by the iconic animal.

"I'm interested to see what's in the stomach. I'm picking snapper, maybe some stingray, and some seals if we're lucky."

Department of Conservation shark expert Clinton Duffy performed the dissection.

"She looks a bit gruesome really, she's not really at her best... they are very beautiful creatures in the wild," he said to the crowd.

Later he took a large knife and sheared away the female shark's fins, before plunging the sharp metal tool into the flesh near her backbone.

His slow parallel sawing action exposed the shark's huge liver and uncovered the cavernous ruby red insides of the animal, shining in the sunshine.

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Duffy said previous dissections had revealed seal pups, stingray and blue penguins.

However today the stomach was empty, filled only with brown mush - the product of semi-digested fish and bones.

The only oddity found inside was a large fish-hook, complete with nylon line still attached.

Dr Trnski said the contents were not an anti-climax.

"How can you be disappointed when you get to open up the stomach of a shark!" he said.

- Stuff

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