The remains of what appears to be a juvenile whale shark have washed up on Terrace Beach near Eden on Tuesday April 6.
Whale sharks are the largest fish species in the world and can grow to 10-15 metres, but Matt Azzopardi and his family who reported it to Fisheries and National Parks measured it to around four metres.
"It was an incredible experience - we thought it was still alive coz it was rolling in the surf," Matt said.
"It was quite surreal to see it, I paced it out myself to a conservative three and a half metres to over four metres."
Fisheries have since measured it to almost exactly five metres.
Matt made the find with his partner Allison Falzon and their two sons Mason and Jakim, sharing video to their Facebook page Shotgun Odyssey - Travel Oz.
The couple said they make an annual holiday to Eden and were itching to return after bushfires and border closures had halted their visits.
"We missed two years and we thought 'we just gotta get back up here' so we came up for Easter."
The family arrived on Monday and found the shark this morning after cruising around to check out town and the new wharf.
Matt and Allison said they certainly weren't the first to find the carcass with plenty of surfers enjoying the water at Terrace Beach.
"You really couldn't miss it, but no one was looking at it, they were all surfing," Matt said with a laugh.
Mick Proctor from the Eden Fisheries office said it was likely the carcass would be recovered with the Whale Museum also included in discussions considering an autopsy to find the cause of its death.
"He seemed genuinely surprised, he told us it was a once-in-a-lifetime find," Matt said.
The family said it was unfortunate the whale shark was dead, but it was still a fascinating find to see one up close.
"Jakim was fascinated with it, the way its eyes were so small compared to it's size - it's a big animal," Matt said.
"It's really huge and it's got such a wide mouth," Allison agreed.
Whale sharks are a largely tropical and sub-tropical species, but it was thought it might have ventured further south with warm eastern currents.