An unusual carcass discovered last week on a beach in Tlell is that of a great white shark, according to a shark expert who identified it from photos.
The carcass was found was by Tlell resident Josina Davis, who was walking along the beach with a friend when she came across what looked like the backbone of a large creature, with some mottled grey flesh still attached. There was no head, but the remains of the backbone were about two metres long, she said, and felt cartilaginous rather than bony.
Ms Davis returned to the beach a couple of days later, but most of the backbone had washed away. However, her dog discovered two teeth where the carcass had been.
One of the teeth was broken, but the other is a perfect specimen, 3.5 cm long with serrated edges and a sharp point. It looks exactly like the tooth of a great white shark depicted in Ms Davis’s reference book about sharks.
“It’s an exciting find,” Ms Davis said. “The tooth is just huge.”
She e-mailed the news of her finding and photographs of it to Aidan Martin, director of the ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research. He e-mailed back that the vertebrae and teeth are definitely from a white shark.
“Yours is only the third badly decomposed white shark I know about washed ashore in the Queen Charlottes,” the researcher wrote. “As this is an El Nino year, the data from your record is highly significant.”
Norm Sloan, ecosystem scientist at Gwaii Haanas, said great white sharks, while uncommon, have been seen in the waters around the islands.
“They do occur in our cooler waters,” he said. “They’re eaters of marine mammals.”
Dr. Sloan said the creature likely died far offshore, and later washed up on the beach.
The great white is the largest of the predatory sharks. It can grow up to six metres long and weigh up to 2.4 tons.
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