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

Funding issues jeopardize Fraser Valley Humane Society

Board member says doors may have to be closed, fundraiser taking place on Monday

Trail-cam thief unaware of being on camera

Anyone recognizing the thief urged to contact Abbotsford Police Department

Abbotsford police cruiser t-bones civilian vehicle en route to emergency call

South Fraser Way and Gladwin blocked off as police conduct investigation

VIDEO: B.C. Mountie killed by drunk driver honoured by memorial playground

Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground opens with ceremony in Langford

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and stand-up guy at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Big rally in northern B.C. draws attention to continuing lumber crisis

Mayor Joan Atkinson says about 400 workers have been directly affected by the closure of the Canfor mill

Orangeville Northmen take Minto Cup at Langley Events Centre

Swept best-of-five series 3-0 over Victoria Shamrocks

Most Read