Dead Great White Shark Off San Diego Prompts Stern Warning From Officials

by Shelby Scott
Photo by Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It’s not uncommon to hear of dead whales washing up on beaches around the world. However, it’s less common to see sharks, Great Whites especially, washing ashore in California. Recently, a Great White shark washed ashore near San Diego and the manner of the shark’s death has officials issuing a stern warning to anglers.

According to USA Today’s FTW, an 8-foot-long juvenile female Great White shark carcass was located near San Diego on Sunday. The shark’s carcass, discovered at Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve and Beach between Del Mar and La Jolla, temporarily went viral. Reserve officials posted photos of the dead juvenile shark to Facebook to remind area anglers of the illegality connected to targeting and killing Great White sharks.

The reserve said in their Facebook post, “She had succumbed to injuries sustained from fishing activities.”

More importantly, officials emphasized, “Great Whites are protected and must be safely released if accidentally caught.”

Of their post, they explained, “We took the opportunity to turn this unfortunate event into an educational opportunity for visitors.”

That said, what makes the young Great White’s death more tragic is that it had been tagged by wildlife experts. Shark conservationists from Shark Lab at California State University Long Beach tagged the animal in August, tracking the large fish. This means that scientists were observing the shark’s everyday patterns and also providing more insight into the species.

Great White Shark Experts Believe There are More Deaths to Come

Whether or not anglers intentionally killed the 8-foot Great White is irrelevant. Chris Lowe, director of the Shark Lab, spoke about how the region where the dead juvenile shark was found is increasingly becoming littered with discarded fishing gear.

“These fishers are pretty brazen,” Lowe said. They “don’t think they’re doing any harm, but when you see the size of the tackle and how many are breaking off with 100 feet of line and lead trailing, you can understand why these sharks die from these interactions.”

He added, “there will be more problems.”

Lowe states that 40% of Torrey Pines white sharks are trailing fishing gear.

Nevertheless, if big game fishermen are targeting Great White sharks in San Diego and find themselves caught in the act, they could face serious trouble. Targeting Great White sharks is illegal. But, unfortunately, the news outlet states actually enforcing the law is hard. Realistically, fishermen who are targeting white sharks can claim they’re just aiming for other prey.

Still, Lowe said, given the size of the tackle, there are clear indications people are targeting this protected shark species.

“They aren’t fishing for bat rays with this heavy duty terminal tackle and baits,” he argued. “It sure looks like they are targeting these white sharks, which is illegal.”

As to the dead juvenile shark, Lowe said, “There was clear indication of jaw hooking and tearing through the jaw.”