Two Sharks Found Dead on Massachusetts Beaches Because It’s So Cold in the U.S. Right Now

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Two sharks were found dead Wednesday on beaches on Cape Cod, and experts say “cold shock” may have led to their stranding and death. Atlantic White Shark Conservancy

The end of the year is bringing freezing temperatures to New England, and it’s not just humans who are feeling the cold. Two sharks were found dead Wednesday on beaches on Cape Cod, and experts say “cold shock” may have led to their stranding and death.

Cold shock happens when a person or animal is exposed to sudden, very cold temperatures. Humans can suffer a variety of symptoms such as muscle spasms and cardiac arrest. The program director of the Cape Cod–based Atlantic White Shark Conservancy told The Boston Globe that it’s not uncommon for sea turtles to wash up on the beach after experiencing cold shock. However, sharks are water-breathing fish, so when they wash up on a beach, they can suffocate and die.

Representatives from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy collected tissue and organ samples from the shark bodies, according to the Boston Globe. They will examine the samples once they thaw to confirm the cause of death.

The two male sharks, discovered on Skaket Beach and Chipman’s Cove in Cape Cod were thresher sharks, also known as long-tailed sharks. This species of shark feature long tails that they use as a whip to stun and kill prey. The recovered sharks were 14 feet long, with tails making up 6 feet of their lengths.

A thresher shark hunts fish by whipping its long tail at a school. PLOS Media

Thresher sharks prefer open ocean, and they don’t often swim close to shore. They live in tropical to cold waters around the world, preferring temperate waters.

But they appeared to be no match for the freezing temperatures that pummeled the New England region. Over the last few days, Massachusetts temperatures didn’t exceed 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and overnight it dipped to only a few degrees.

Hopefully, the remaining sharks will have the opportunity to migrate to warmer waters. Over the next few weeks, the weather in Cape Cod will include rain and snow showers, and isn’t predicted to get above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Weather.com.