Potentially poisonous puffer fish have washed up on beaches in the Coromandel, prompting a warning from the district council.
Puffer fish have washed up on Whangamata and Whitiangi beaches and dog owners should take care while walking their pets, the Thames Coromandel District Council's compliance manager Brian Taylor said.
The pufferfish are related to the poisonous Japanese fugu puffer fish, famed for being a dangerous delicacy, but it is not known whether the washed up fish in the Coromandel are poisonous.
"We advise people and pets to keep a safe distance and not touch the fish as they could potentially have a neurotoxin in their skin and intestine and they have sharp spines," Mr Taylor said.
The council's environment health team removed fish from the beaches and sent specimens for testing. It would take several weeks to determine whether the fish were a poisonous variety, he said.
"As we have seen these fish wash up at two different beaches, there could also be good reason to suspect they are washing up along the entire east coast of the Coromandel including Tairua, Pauanui, Hahei and Hot Water Beaches," he said.
Last month hundreds of dead birds and 38 puffer fish washed up at Mount Maunganui.