The stranding of a large thresher shark Friday in Washington State presented biologists with a unique opportunity to educate beachgoers.
The shark, estimated to weigh between 300 and 365 pounds, washed ashore on the Long Beach Peninsula near Ocean Park. It died shortly after Seaside Aquarium personnel arrived in response to reports of the stranding.
It was the second thresher shark to have stranded in the area since Aug. 18, when a 12-foot shark washed ashore. Experts are still trying to determine the reason for both strandings.
But they perceived Friday’s event as an opportunity to provide “a learning experience” for the public, the Seaside Aquarium explained on Facebook.
A public viewing was held on the beach Saturday from 9-11 a.m. That was followed by a necropsy attended by as many as 75 people.
“It is not very often that we get to see these large sharks and anything we can learn or educate the public on is a great opportunity,” the aquarium stated.
Thresher sharks are unique predators, easy to identify because of their long tail fins, which they use to “thrash” and stun schooling fish, which become prey.
Photos: Seaside Aquarium
“People were really interested and asked a lot of great questions,” the aquarium wrote. “Most people were fascinated by the length of the shark’s tail, in which it is named after.”
The next step, hopefully, as to determine why thresher sharks are washing ashore.
“That is the million-dollar question,” the aquarium acknowledged, “and that is why it is important to be able to collect data and various tissue and organ samples.”