Strange and un­usual

Ma­rine mam­mal mu­ti­lated

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY BUR­TON K. JANES AND BILL BOW­MAN

The col­lec­tive eyes of Bay Roberts and sur­round­ing area were fix­ated on the har­bour for two days last week (Aug. 25-26).

A shark - be­lieved to be ei­ther a por­bea­gle or mako - had made its way into the har­bour on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. The ma­rine mam­mal, which was about eight feet in length and weighed be­tween 350 and 400 pounds, put on a show for the cam­era-tot­ing spec­ta­tors in boats and on­shore.

The shark made its way un­der the Klondyke bridge, sep­a­rat­ing Bay Roberts from Co­ley’s Point, even­tu­ally beach­ing it­self in the Coish, the ex­treme up­per end of the har­bour.

“ Sharks ( like this one) fre­quent our wa­ters, but larger num­bers are seen on the south coast rather than in the east,” said Jim Francis, de­tach­ment su­per­vi­sor with the Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans con­ser­va­tion and pro­tec­tion di­vi­sion.

“ It’s very un­usual and a lit­tle strange for a shark to en­ter such shal­low wa­ter in a nar­row gap, con­tent to stay there. The wa­ter in the Coish is be­tween two and three feet deep. Ob­vi­ously the shark made an at­tempt to beach it­self,” the of­fi­cial added.

“ While the beach­ing of a ma­rine mam­mal is un­for­tu­nate, it is a nat­u­ral oc­cur­rence in the ma­rine ecosys­tem,” Francis ex­plained.

Be­tween mid­night Wed­nes­day and and 6 a.m., Thurs­day, the shark died.

To the horror of a shocked pub­lic, the shark was mu­ti­lated overnight. An en­tire sec­tion was sliced off.

Early on, when the shark was in a more nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, it ap­peared to be in good con­di­tion, Francis said.

“ But the mam­mal ap­peared to be in a dis­tressed sort of pat­tern, ei­ther sick or in­jured, or both. There’s no in­di­ca­tion it was ha­rassed - it died of some nat­u­ral cause,” he ob­served.

“Ob­vi­ously some­one de­cided to take sec­tions of the shark, pos­si­bly for con­sump­tion. I would want to in­ter­ject a note of cau­tion to any­one con­sum­ing the meat be­cause of the er­ratic be­hav­iour of the shark and the still­ness of the wa­ter in the Coish.”

The area where the mam­mal was found is also per­car­i­ously close to a sewer out­fall - some­thing the per­son or per­sons re­spon­si­ble for fil­lit­ing it may wish to keep in mind if they were con­sid­er­ing a shark bar­be­cue.

The mam­mal has been re­cov­ered and trans­ported to St. John’s, where sci­en­tists are ex­am­in­ing it. DFO is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mu­ti­la­tion of the shark. “ We will fully in­ves­ti­gate any pos­si­bil­ity of wrong­do­ing for ev­i­dence of an il­le­gal act, ei­ther caus­ing the mam­mal to die of un­nat­u­ral causes or re­mov­ing sec­tions of it,” Francis told The Com­pass

In­put from the pub­lic is be­ing so­licited. Any­one with ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing pho­to­graphs and video, are en­cour­aged to con­tact the DFO of­fice in Bay Roberts. The phone num­ber is 786-3960.

Photo cour­tesy of Ruby Adams

LIVE SHARK - This im­age shows the shark while it was still alive, if not well, and still swim­ming around near the Klondyke in Bay Roberts last Wed­nes­day, Aug. 25.

Photo by Bur­ton K. Janes/The Com­pass

This shark, ei­ther a por­bea­gle or mako, beached it­self in the Coish in Bay Roberts early on the morn­ing of Au­gust 26. An en­tire side of the mam­mal has been sliced off, pos­si­bly for con­sump­tion.

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