Great white shark measuring over 5.5 metres spotted in Whangarei Harbour

A 5.5m great white shark was spotted by a diver in Whangarei Harbour last Thursday. (FILE)

A 5.5m great white shark was spotted by a diver in Whangarei Harbour last Thursday. (FILE)

A great white shark has been spotted in Northland waters.

A marine scientist has warned anyone getting into the water around Whangarei Harbour to take extra precautions after a great white measuring 5.5 metres approached a diver.

The diver was off Peach Cove last Thursday when he encountered what he believed was a great white between 5.5m and 6m.

The experienced diver and spear fishermen's description of the animal fit the bill of what could possibly be a pregnant female great white, Department of Conservation marine scientist Clinton Duffy said.

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The diver was mid-water and fairly exposed when he recognised what was swimming towards him straight away, Duffy said.

The shark was close enough that the diver could see its muscles under the skin.

Duffy said the diver described the shark had a wide girth, which could possibly indicate it was a female and pregnant.

"He saw it and the boat operator saw it and they were in a 5.5m boat, he said it was about the size of the boat," Duffy said.

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"We don't have tracking data for a shark this size. But if it's pregnant it's possible she's coming closer to shore to birth before moving off shore after dropping her pups."

Reports of great white sightings have been common on the region's northeast coast.

They have previously been spotted between Pakiri, near Leigh, and Tutukaka, just north of Whangarei.

Swimmers and divers in the area shouldn't be too alarmed as great whites have been seen around the Whangarei Heads on numerous occasions at any time of the year, Duffy said.

But he warned people should take extra precautions when getting into the water.

"Divers need to have a diving buddy or making sure someone in the boat is keeping an eye on what they're doing.

"People just need to take sensible precautions around their own personal safety."

It is illegal to catch or harm a great white shark as they are a protected species.

In March, a juvenile great white was spotted in the Hauraki Gulf near the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

A month later, fishermen caught a 3m great white near Cape Reinga.

 - Stuff

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