HomeOutdoorsNewsNecropsy on Dead Shark Washed up on Beach Reveals 4 Embryos Inside

Necropsy on Dead Shark Washed up on Beach Reveals 4 Embryos Inside

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: $250

Bystanders at a Massachusetts beach were stunned when they discovered an eight-foot shark washed-up on the beach. In addition, they later learned the beach was pregnant.

Marine biologist and New England Aquarium employee John Chisholm said he received a report from a witness reporting a beached porbeagle shark at a beach in Marshfield, Mass. Later, Chisholm, a local harbor master, and first responders went to the beach to examine the animal. However, according to Chisholm, events like these happen “every year.”

Despite this, he admitted he was taken aback by what he saw. “I could see that it was really fresh,” he said of the discovery. “We got some help from the local fire department because it was a pretty big shark and we ended up dragging it up above the high tide line and securing it so we could come back on Saturday.”

When they returned the next day, they performed a necropsy and found that the washed-up shark was also pregnant with four embryos— a rarity according to Chisholm.

In addition, they found no apparent signs of trauma. As of now, the team is unsure of how the creature passed away. They have since taken tissue samples from the animal to learn more about its final moments.

According to experts, female porbeagle sharks have an 8-9 month gestation period. However, in other species, their gestation periods can vary. For Chisholm, the discovery helps them learn more about reproduction in this species.

Researchers use embryos from beached shark to learn more about species

“What we did get from it was valuable information on the reproductive history of these sharks, which we know a little bit about,” said Chisholm. “We secured the embryos so we can look at them and see what phase of development they were in and things like that.”

Now, the information from the necropsy will be shared with a network of universities and researchers.

“The vertebrae will go to people that work on aging growth, the tissue samples from the liver and different organs will go to different institutions where people are studying the physiology of the sharks,” said Chisholm.

The porbeagle shark is also similar to a smaller great white, they primarily swim in Northern Atlantic waters but have also been seen in the Southern Atlantic, Southern Indian Ocean, Southern Pacific, and even the Antarctic Ocean.

Moreover, the female porbeagle shark is ovoviviparous, meaning fertilization occurs internally. Of the 500 shark species, most give birth to live pups. Porbeagle sharks usually birth 1-5 pups.

Although the incident is tragic, it will ultimately benefit the scientific community in the long run.

“We don’t like to see dead sharks, but when we do have the opportunity to sample a shark like this, that’s a win for science because we can learn more about the natural history of this shark,” added Chisholm. “A lot of people get to benefit.”