8 Dec 2023

Shark tag from Australian great white found on Southland beach

5:55 pm on 8 December 2023

By Matthew Hampson of Stuff

Tokanui resident Kelsi Hayes with her dog Quasi after discovering the shark tag on Thursday evening.

Tokanui resident Kelsi Hayes with her dog Quasi after discovering the shark tag on Thursday evening. Photo: Supplied / Stuff

A tag from a great white shark being monitored in Australia has been found by a dog in Southland after days of searching by locals.

Having fallen off the shark after 150 days at sea, the tag was tracked to a remote, rocky beach on the far western edge of the Catlins.

The tag touched land on Monday.

On Thursday evening, Tokanui resident Kelsi Hayes was walking down the beach with her dog Quasi when the tag "flew out the end" of some seaweed.

"[Quasi] was a bit embarrassed because a Canadian goose got the better of him, and he went and started chewing up a bit of seaweed because he thought he could beat that," she said.

"The shark tag flew out the end of it."

The pair had no luck finding the tag on their previous visits to the beach earlier in the week. Hayes had taken her nephew's metal detector along, but that "didn't seem to work".

"It's good that [Quasi] found it … It looks exactly the same as the mussel shells, basically - that beach is littered with them."

Shark Experience, a shark diving operator in Bluff, had urged locals to join the search after being notified by a research team in New South Wales that the tag had been tracked to the beach near Fortrose.

By coincidence, a team from Shark Experience turned up at the beach on Thursday "just at that moment" when Quasi shook the tag out of the seaweed, Hayes said.

"I was like, 'Oh, is this what you're looking for?' … It all worked out perfect," she said.

"I think the scientists were pretty stoked, so I was quite happy. I was like, 'Oh well, good thing done for the day.'"

Great white shark and a tracking tag

The tag fell off a great white shark being tracked by Australian researchers. Photo: 123RF / Supplied

A NSW Department of Primary Industries spokesperson said the "pop-up satellite archival tag" came from a male great white that was 2.95m long when it was tagged off One Mile Beach in Forster on the Australian state's coast on 26 June this year.

The tag "popped up" about 2100km away, off the northern side of Rakiura/Stewart Island, on 25 November, the spokesperson said.

It then drifted at sea and came ashore at the mouth of the Mataura River in the Fortrose area on 4 December.

Part of the NSW Government's shark management programme, the tag contained data on depth, water temperature and where the shark had been over the past 150 days.

It was the 1000th to have been tagged to a great white shark by the programme. Monitored via GPS, the tags were designed to eventually drop off the sharks.

Shark Experience shore crew member Nikki Ladd said the Australian researchers were using an app as a live monitoring tool, and had been sharing it with their team in Bluff.

She said Shark Experience was "so happy" to be able to return the tag to Australia.

"We're just really excited - we're so happy for them."

* This story was first published by Stuff.

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