Strange and unusual
Marine mammal mutilated
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.
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.
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.