A 12-foot-long great white shark was found dead on a Cape Cod beach late Saturday night, and researchers are at a loss to explain how the mature male predator died.
The white shark was found on Pleasant Road Beach late on Saturday night, according to Cynthia Wigren of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. The shark was already dead when it was discovered, yet it remains unknown whether the great white died in the water and washed ashore, or became stranded and then expired.
— Cape Cod Times (@capecodtimes) September 27, 2015
Citing two other high profile cases in which great white sharks were stranded on Cape Cod earlier this summer, Wigren noted that this instance was somewhat different. In the previous cases, the sharks were found alive, yet marooned on local beaches. One of the great whites survived when it was towed back into the sea, while another passed away despite rescuers’ efforts. The shark found Saturday night had already expired when beachgoers noticed it, however, as the Cape Cod Times notes.
— fishinghd (@fishing_hd) September 18, 2015
The great white shark was taken to Harwich transfer station, where state shark researcher Greg Skomal performed a necropsy and attempted to determine the animal’s cause of death. Skomal was unable to identify any signs of trauma either on the outside of the shark’s body, or within it, according to the Daily Mail. He asserts that whatever killed the animal is likely to remain a mystery, though samples from it were taken.
“We’re not going to be able to tell the cause of death. I don’t think there’s anything unusual about it.”
Check out this large great white shark that was sotted off of Cape Cod — http://t.co/qMQoNBe27O pic.twitter.com/S8r85zIcVW
— Boston (@SunTimesBOS) September 17, 2015
The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy has been studying the seasonal population of great white sharks off the coast of Cape Cod for several years, tagging some of the animals and documenting the rest. This year, they have been able to identify over 80 different white sharks swimming in the region.
While the group has tagged a number of great whites this year, the shark found on Saturday night wasn’t carrying a transmitter. Skomal said that he intends to determine whether this particular great white shark had previously been documented by scientists.
[Photo by Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries via the Daily Mail]