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04th Oct 2023

Researchers called after shark washes up on Cork beach with ‘no clear cause of death’

Stephen Porzio


Experts are trying to work out the reasons behind the mysterious shark discovery.

A dead shark washed up on the coast of Cork at the weekend, leading researchers to be called to the scene in a bid to work out what caused its passing.

As reported in multiple outlets, the nine-foot shark was discovered on Sunday (1 October) at Sheep’s Cove near Clonakilty, with marine biologist Dr Danielle Orrell, PhD Student Jasmine Stavenow and conservationist Victoria Knight later arriving at the beach to study the animal.

Alerted to the find by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, the three researchers subsequently identified the animal as an around 10-years-old male blue shark, a type of shark that is present in Irish waters typically from June to October.

Fisheries Ireland notes that the conservation status of the blue shark is listed as “near threatened” on the Irish Red List for cartilaginous fish, as well as on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.

“Although not widely targeted by commercial fisheries, blue sharks are a major bycatch of fisheries for tuna and billfish,” it explains.

In a Twitter thread on Monday, Dr Orrell wrote: “Yesterday evening, we were alerted to a 9ft shark spotted stranded on a local beach in Co. Cork

“On arrival, we found a male blue shark (Siorc gorm in Irish) above the strand line. There was no clear cause of death.

“We took samples of fin, muscle, and recorded basic measurements. These data will contribute to both regional and national datasets

“While sad, strandings like this provide a unique opportunity to gather samples and glean insight into these incredible animals found in Irish waters.”

Researchers called after shark washes up on Cork beach with ‘no clear cause of death’

Commenting on Dr Orrell’s thread, one Twitter user asked: “Did you search or see any kind of sign of interaction with swordfish?”

They added: “We’ve been detecting rostrums embedded in the tissues of the blue shark causing the death of the animal. Here in the Valencian Community the prevalence of these lesions is quite high in stranded animals.”

In response, Dr Orrell said that there were “no external signs” of an interaction with a swordfish, but also stated:

“We only did a basic assessment (no scans). From my understanding swordfish are fairly rare off the south coast of Ireland, but this is something we will check for in the future. Very interesting.”

Dr Orrell has also warned members of the public to be cautious of approaching dead animals on beaches as they may carry diseases.

Main image via Twitter/DaniOrrell

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