70 pups found inside dead shark washed ashore on Vancouver Island

Team of scientists from University of Victoria performed a necropsy on a shark that washed ashore

About 70 baby sharks were removed this week from the carcass of the bluntnose sixgill shark that washed ashore at Coles Bay in North Saanich.

In front of a curious crowd of onlookers, the autopsy, known as a necropsy, was performed by scientists from the University of Victoria’s Baum and Juanes laboratories.

RELATED: 10-foot-long shark washes ashore in North Saanich

The scientists took samples that they plan to investigate using chemical analyses called stable isotopes, back at UVic. This will show what the mother was eating in the period before her death and how this compares to the food consumed by her babies. Another department will also study the sharks’ stomachs and livers for the presence of micro-plastics.

The shark, known as a Hexanchus griseus, washed ashore on Feb. 5. One of the first people to investigate it was Brian Timmer, who is a student in the Juanes laboratory.

He said his team was granted permission from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to take samples.

RELATED: North Saanich mystery shark identified, UVic lab seeks to do necropsy

Experts thought the fact the shark was pregnant meant she died because of complications while she gave birth. Mother sharks are known to come into shallower waters to give birth and have large litters of 20 to 100 pups.

Geoff Osgood, studying for his PHD in sharks, counselled caution in coming to conclusions until further investigations had taken place.

He said that although this species of shark is thought to be common because they normally live in such deep water, there are many aspects of their behaviour and life that are unknown.

READ ALSO: Ratfish generates social media buzz on Vancouver Island

He was especially interested in their population numbers.

“We can take a look at how many pups are present,” he added. “It’s useful in understanding its growth rate, how quickly their populations can grow.”

“Right now, Canada has [this species] listed as ‘special concern.’ Because sharks, in general, are a very slow growing species, they take a long time to reach maturity, their gestation period is very long, and compared to other bony fish who can release millions of eggs at a time, it [the number of babies] is no where near the levels of millions at a time.”

READ ALSO: Rare ‘king-of-the-salmon’ washes up on Oak Bay beach

There has already been interest from across North America in the North Saanich shark. Researchers have fielded calls from Californian scientists looking to collaborate.

Timmer said the team is especially excited, as the research they conduct in the coming weeks will lead to a published scientific paper later in the year.

nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Just Posted

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

Security guard now on patrol at three Terrace banks

Company hired to secure ATM vestibules due to safety concerns

LNG Canada sponsors fast-tracked driver’s license training in Terrace, Kitimat

The $80,000 contribution is part of the company’s commitment to hire locally

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

B.C. VIEWS: Power politics wins over rational energy policy

B.C Hydro continues to face interference on rates

PR firm suspends contract with former B.C. premier amid groping accusation

Edelman says in a statement that Campbell has served as a special adviser to the firm since last July

James says B.C. budget puts priorities on NDP’s poverty, environment plans

She said she expected the government’s poverty reduction and climate change strategies to be priorities in the budget

PHOTOS: Day 1 of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Games kicked off in Red Deer this week

Most Read