Mystery of Giant Frozen Shark on Cape Cod Beach Baffles Experts

While it's common for the Jaws theme music to haunt you while swimming, it's more of a rarity when strolling down the beach.

But, while walking along the beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, photographer Amie Medeiros stumbled across a chilling sight.

"It was startling, this frozen giant looking bloody and helpless," she told Newsweek. "His razor teeth were incredibly intimidating up close."

Frozen shark in Cape Cod
Photo of the frozen shark on Cold Storage Beach in Cape Cod. Amie Medeiros @capephotosbyamie/Instagram

Lying before her, on Cold Storage Beach in Dennis, was a frozen porbeagle shark. "This is the sixth porbeagle stranding so far this winter," John Chisholm, a shark researcher working with New England Aquarium's Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, told Newsweek. "We do not know why it died which is why we investigate strandings to try and determine cause of death."

After an unseasonably warm winter, New England was hit by a sub-freezing polar vortex over the weekend. "It was a brutal polar vortex," Medeiros said. "[It] was probably about 8 degrees, much less with the wind chill [...] My fingers were [definitely] frozen."

Chisholm said that porbeagles are a cold water species, so would not have died from the icy temperatures. "The reason it was frozen is due the fact it was already dead and on the beach when the arctic cold blast hit the region over the weekend."

Porbeagles are one of the closest living relatives to the great white shark and can grow to over 11 feet long, weighing up to 507 pounds, according to The Wildlife Trusts in the U.K. The species is common in Massachusetts, although they are usually not found so close to the shore.

"Stranding occurs for various reasons," Chisholm said. "Sometimes the shark is sick, sometimes they get caught by fishermen and don't survive and sometimes it's just bad luck—they get too close to shore and get stuck."

Frozen shark in Cape Cod
Photo of the frozen porbeagle in Cape Cod. The shark appears to have a wound on its side. Amie Medeiros @capephotosbyamie/Instagram

Medeiros' photos show what appears to be a severe injury on the shark's side. It is unclear what caused these injuries.

In the days following the stranding, Medeiros said that the shark began to deteriorate as the weather warmed up. "He did not smell at all on that frozen day, but I hear the next warm day, he was stinky and sadly people took his teeth."

In a Twitter post, Chisholm said that the shark may have originally washed up last week and has been moving around with the tides. This follows a similar stranding of a female porbeagle on Sagamore Beach in Cape Cod in early January, and a pregnant porbeagle on a beach in Marshfield, Massachusetts, in December.

"Unlike the others, this one is male," Chisholm said. It is not clear why more females have washed up in recent months, but over the years, both sexes have been found.

While shark strandings are not common, Chisholm said that if you find a shark on a beach, you should report to your local wildlife authorities immediately.

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