By John Ensor •
Published: 04 Oct 2023 • 13:07
Investigators examine the beached shark.
THIS week an unusual find on an Irish beach has baffled experts.
On Monday, October 2, at Sheep Cove near Clonakilty, a puzzling discovery was made. A nine-foot shark was discovered washed up on the beach, without any obvious signs of injury, according to Xtra.ie
Experts, including Dr Danielle Orrell, PhD student Jasmine Stavenow, and conservationist Victoria Knight, were summoned to investigate.
Upon close examination and sampling, they identified the creature as an adult blue shark, approximately 10 years old. While blue sharks can live for up to 20 years and reach lengths of 3.8 metres, they typically measure around 2.2m. This particular specimen was notably larger than average.
The blue shark, a highly migratory species, has a ‘near-threatened’ status according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Despite their size, their primary diet consists of small fish and squid. They seldom pursue larger prey, even though they can grow up to 13ft.
Dr Orrell, donning protective equipment during her examination, cautioned the public against approaching the deceased shark. She highlighted the potential risks, stating that dead animals might harbour zoonotic diseases.
In a statement, Dr Orrell shared, ‘Yesterday evening, we were alerted to a 9ft shark spotted stranded on a local beach in Co. Cork. On arrival, we found a male blue shark (Siorc gorm in Irish) above the strand line.
‘There was no clear cause of death. We took samples of fin, muscle, and recorded basic measurements. These data will contribute to both regional and national datasets. While sad, strandings like this provide a unique opportunity to gather samples and glean insight into these incredible animals found in Irish waters.’
Blue sharks are not known to be aggressive towards humans. In fact, fewer than 30 attacks have been documented globally, with only four resulting in fatalities.
A noteworthy incident occurred in Cork in 2018. An angler caught two blue sharks but sustained a bite while attempting to release them. The RNLI later clarified the event as more of an ‘angling accident’.
The team expressed gratitude to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group for alerting them about the stranded shark.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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