PHOTO: Did Researchers Pick up a 50-Foot Shark on This Sonar Image?

by Lauren Boisvert

A group of shark researchers from the Atlantic Shark Institute out of Rhode Island got the surprise of a lifetime when they recorded sonar of what seemed to be a 50-foot Megalodon shark. The Megalodon went extinct 3.6 million years ago, so there’s no way this thing could have been the legendary “Meg.” Or could it?

The research team was using a fish-finder off the New England coast when they spotted a shape on sonar that looked awfully familiar. In the photo, there’s a distinct shark-like shape from head to tail and even included a dorsal fin. The group tracked it for several minutes as it headed straight for their boat. Were they about to come face-to-face with a giant prehistoric shark? Or some sort of huge mutant great white?

Turns out, the Megalodon was just a school of Atlantic mackerel. The gigantic shape started to roil and shift as it continued swimming towards the boat, and that’s when researchers knew for sure it wasn’t a shark. The group posted the sonar photo on Facebook, sharing their experience and hopes.

“The shape started to transition into a large school of Atlantic mackerel that hung around the boat for about 15 minutes. So close, but so far!” the Institute wrote in their post. They continued, “The Megalodon (Otodus megalodon), disappeared more than 3 million years ago and will likely stay that way, but, for a few minutes, we thought he had returned!”

Aquarium Uses Dead Thresher Shark as Opportunity to Educate Locals

Recently, a thresher shark washed up on Long Beach Peninsula in Washington State, and Seaside Aquarium took the shark’s death as a learning experience for Pacific County locals. Beachgoers reported that the huge shark had washed up on the shore and was alive, but it died shortly after Seaside Aquarium personnel arrived. They then proceeded to take measurements of the shark’s body, fins, and tail. While they studied the shark, they shared information with the gathered locals.

The aquarium welcomed the public to a viewing of the dead shark, sharing their knowledge of threshers. For example, where they get their names. Threshers whip their long tails through a school of fish, which stuns them. Then, they swim back through the school and eat up what they can. A thresher’s tail can grow to almost 10 feet long, and the locals were fascinated by the sight.

Additionally, the aquarium opened the necropsy up to the public as well, inviting those who wished to learn more about the shark to join them in dissection and study. “It is not very often that we get to see these large sharks and anything we can learn or educate the public on is a great opportunity,” Seaside Aquarium wrote on Facebook. Apparently, this is the second thresher shark that has washed up on this shore, and researchers are trying to figure out why. Seaside continued, “that is why it is important to be able to collect data and various tissue and organ samples.”