Great White Sharks Are Mysteriously Washing Ashore in North America

Great white sharks are mysteriously washing ashore in the Maritimes in Canada. The sharks are common in Canadian waters at this time of year, but it is incredibly rare for them to wash ashore.

The most recent incident occurred on October 26. A juvenile shark was found washed ashore in north Sydney, Nova Scotia at the bottom of a cliff, CTV news reported.

While marine mammal strandings are a fairly common phenomenon, it is not common for sharks to wash ashore. According to the report, local residents reported the shark to Marine Animal Response Society which quickly arrived on the scene.

Washed up great white shark
This juvenile great white shark washed ashore in Nova Scotia this week. Laura Brophy

In the Atlantic Ocean, great white sharks migrate along the U.S east coast to spend their summers off the shores of Canada. When the weather turns in the winter, the sharks begin migrating down south into warmer waters. According to the ocean research organization Ocearch, which tracks great white sharks in the Atlantic, there are still a fair few sharks in the north.

A local boat owner who happened to be in the area then helped transport the shark to North Sydney's Northern Yacht Club. Rescuers were careful with the 500-pound animal as they did not want to do any damage to its body, CTV reported.

Warren Joyce, an aquatic fisheries technician with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, who was at the scene, told CTV that this happens a few times a year but it is usually porbeagle or blue sharks.

"For a white shark, this is very uncommon," said Joyce.

"It's my understanding that there will be an autopsy done. There wasn't any obvious cause of death that we could see- she was in pretty good condition with no bites. A few scratches and some bruising that could have been caused as she was washing up," Laura Brophy, who was also on the scene, told Newsweek.

Washed up great white shark
A picture shows a great white shark washed ashore in Canada. This is a rare occurrence but it has happened more often recently. Laura Brophy

The shark was picked up by the department and taken for a necropsy (the term for an autopsy performed on an animal) in Halifax. Scientists will also analyze samples from the body to determine how it died.

"[I'm] glad a necropsy was done. That ruled out fishing gear entanglement and vessel strike. It could be other causes such as swimming [or] hunting too close to the shore or something else that could be discovered from the necropsy such as an internal health problem," marine biologist Vanessa Pirotta told Newsweek. "The reality is, marine wildlife deaths do occur from time to time and probably don't wash up. This means, we just don't see it when it happens like when a whale passes, it's only when their dead body strands and [becomes] visible, [that] we might start asking questions. Nevertheless, such a unique opportunity to collect samples for science and learn more about these fascinating species."

A similar circumstance occurred just one week ago. The Marine Animal Response Society said on a Facebook post that they were called to remove a mature male white shark that had washed ashore in New Brunswick.

"Although a common shark species in our waters, it is incredibly rare to receive reports of them washing ashore, making this an important opportunity to collect samples and learn more about this endangered species," the society said in a Facebook post.

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A necropsy was not able to determine what killed the shark, meaning the strandings are still shrouded in mystery.