More Sharks Found Dead Because It's So Cold in the U.S. Right Now

Even sharks can be affected by freezing temperatures. Klaus Stiefel on Flickr

For the fourth time this winter, a frozen shark has appeared on the coast of Cape Cod.

A concerned citizen contacted the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy when they found a shark carcass on the beach of a Massachusetts cove. They suspected that the shark suffered from cold shock due to the suddenly frigid temperatures, which could have led the animal to become stranded and die.

This news comes after three other sharks of the same species were found dead, from the same suspected cause of death, in Cape Cod. This species, thresher sharks, are known for their extra-long tails that they use as a whip to stun and kill fish. According to the Cape Cod Times, researchers think that this species is particularly poorly equipped at dealing with the cold and generating its own body heat. When temperatures dip too cold for a long enough period of time, their vital organs don't function well. As a result, they can go into shock, and become stranded on beaches and die.

The Cape Cod Times also reported that the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy has been tracking thresher sharks in the Atlantic, and a group of them equipped with satellite tags has migrated south to the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas. It's possible that these sharks could have been traveling there as well, but may have become confused because of the hook-shape of the cape.

Researchers find "cold stunned" turtles on freezing beaches occasionally during cold winters. Both animals end up stranded when they're too cold to swim, but turtles breathe air and are more likely to recover than a water-breathing shark.

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy warns not to go out and look for dead sharks in this weather, because the ice and water is making conditions dangerous. However, if you happen to see one, you can contact them or download the free Sharktivity App, which helps researchers collect data by crowdsourcing shark sightings.