70 pups found inside dead shark washed ashore on Vancouver Island

Team of scientists from University of Victoria performed a necropsy on a shark that washed ashore

About 70 baby sharks were removed this week from the carcass of the bluntnose sixgill shark that washed ashore at Coles Bay in North Saanich.

In front of a curious crowd of onlookers, the autopsy, known as a necropsy, was performed by scientists from the University of Victoria’s Baum and Juanes laboratories.

RELATED: 10-foot-long shark washes ashore in North Saanich

The scientists took samples that they plan to investigate using chemical analyses called stable isotopes, back at UVic. This will show what the mother was eating in the period before her death and how this compares to the food consumed by her babies. Another department will also study the sharks’ stomachs and livers for the presence of micro-plastics.

The shark, known as a Hexanchus griseus, washed ashore on Feb. 5. One of the first people to investigate it was Brian Timmer, who is a student in the Juanes laboratory.

He said his team was granted permission from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to take samples.

RELATED: North Saanich mystery shark identified, UVic lab seeks to do necropsy

Experts thought the fact the shark was pregnant meant she died because of complications while she gave birth. Mother sharks are known to come into shallower waters to give birth and have large litters of 20 to 100 pups.

Geoff Osgood, studying for his PHD in sharks, counselled caution in coming to conclusions until further investigations had taken place.

He said that although this species of shark is thought to be common because they normally live in such deep water, there are many aspects of their behaviour and life that are unknown.

READ ALSO: Ratfish generates social media buzz on Vancouver Island

He was especially interested in their population numbers.

“We can take a look at how many pups are present,” he added. “It’s useful in understanding its growth rate, how quickly their populations can grow.”

“Right now, Canada has [this species] listed as ‘special concern.’ Because sharks, in general, are a very slow growing species, they take a long time to reach maturity, their gestation period is very long, and compared to other bony fish who can release millions of eggs at a time, it [the number of babies] is no where near the levels of millions at a time.”

READ ALSO: Rare ‘king-of-the-salmon’ washes up on Oak Bay beach

There has already been interest from across North America in the North Saanich shark. Researchers have fielded calls from Californian scientists looking to collaborate.

Timmer said the team is especially excited, as the research they conduct in the coming weeks will lead to a published scientific paper later in the year.

nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Just Posted

What’s happening for Family Day in the Boundary

Activities in and around Grand Forks offer something for everyone.

Biologists discover another female calf in depleted South Purcell Mountain Caribou herd

Calf will be moved to Revelstoke maternity pens, then released

Petition on Second Street project presented to council

Over 1,000 signatures were gathered, but staff say council can’t do much about the project.

Man seriously hurt after police shooting near Nelson

Incident has been reported to provincial police watchdog

Mental health, BC Housing council’s picks for resolution issues

Grand Forks council aims to hold the province accountable to local government with draft resolutions

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

East Kootenay illicit drug overdose deaths lowest in B.C.

Local expert credits harm reduction efforts; declares support for legalization of opioids

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Most Read