Science News

Throwback: 14-foot Thresher Shark Washes Ashore Moss Landing

Usually people visiting Monterey Bay have to book a tour on a boat to see wildlife native to our Pacific waters. But beachgoers got to experience a bit of marine science first hand when a 14-foot thresher shark washed ashore onto a beach in Moss Landing.

After a Moss Landing Marine Laboratories student got at Sandholdt Beach in Moss Landing, he contacted scientists at the Pacific Shark Research Center to collect the recently deceased pelagic shark. PSRC researchers identified it as a female Alopias vulpinus, or Common Thresher shark, measuring 14 feet, seven itches long and weighing over 400 pounds; neither the head nor the tail could fit on the scale, and the tail made up half the total length of the body. The shark is the second out of three beached Threshers found this month along the California coast.

PSRC researchers said beachgoers and passersby were enthusiastic and incredibility excited to watch them in action.  Some even helped them load it into the truck after documenting the moment with their own cameras.

Known for their characteristically long tails, Common thresher sharks can be found worldwide from shallow inshore waters to far offshore, but they are most abundant within 40 miles of coasts. Although it is found throughout most tropical and temperate seas, this specific species is the most common of the three Thresher shark species that occur on the Pacific coast.

The researchers took the shark to MLML to store for further study. The following month they performed a necropsy to collect data from the large specimen to contribute to ongoing shark research. They also collected specific data to investigate the cause of death.

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