(ORDO NEWS) — A dead Greenland shark was spotted on March 13 on a beach in Newlyn Harbor, Cornwall, on the UK‘s southwest coast. Individuals of this species rarely end up on English shores, so scientists seized the moment and studied the shark.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the bowhead shark (Somniosus microcephalus) lives in the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans at a depth of approximately 2,500 meters. A 2016 study published in the journal Science found that these sharks can live for at least 272 years.
A dead Greenland shark was spotted March 13 on a beach in Newlyn Harbour, Cornwall, on the southwest coast of England. However, the experts did not have time to study it, because the tide carried the corpse into the ocean.
The same shark was then rediscovered off the coast of Cornwall on March 15th by Mermaid Pleasure Trips. She was taken aboard and taken to shore, where scientists were able to perform an autopsy. Bowhead sharks are reportedly extremely rare in UK waters, and this is only the second occurrence on record.
Why did the shark die
The shark washed ashore in Cornwall was a juvenile female, 4 meters long and weighing 285 kilograms. Scientists have not yet had time to determine the exact age of the shark, but science already knows that this species reaches sexual maturity at about 150 years.
Accordingly, the deceased female may be about a hundred years old. According to the St. Lawrence Shark Observatory (ORS), Greenland sharks can grow up to 7.3 meters in length in their lifetime.
On March 16, the shark’s corpse was autopsied for experts from the National Cetacean Research Program (CSIP). Pathologists found signs of infection in the shark’s blood, while there were no food residues in the stomach.
This means that for some reason the individual did not eat for a long time and somehow ended up in shallow water. The experts also concluded that the shark jumped ashore while still alive, and died already on land. The exact cause of the individual’s death is yet to be ascertained.
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