Featured Image Credit: Atlantic White Shark Conservancy
By Kira Krall
Four thresher sharks have made their way to Cape Cod’s shores, but not in the normal undulating swim pattern of your standard cartilaginous fish. They’re showing up as shark-sicles. One of the four sharks was frozen solid in an ice pack and couldn’t be recovered due to the rough conditions. The other three floated their way onto the Massachusetts sand, including one 14-footer.
Most of the country is battling a colder-than-average winter but the bitter cold might not be the main shark-freezing culprit. Greg Skomal of the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game suspects the thresher shark’s unusual migration patterns landed them in cold water. They don’t start migrating until mid-winter when the water dips below 46 degrees Fahrenheit.
The thresher shark has a unique ability to somewhat regulate its own body heat. By predatory fish standards, this trait is fairly common. Tuna, swordfish, and other species of shark retain enough body heat to withstand bouts of sprinting after prey even in cold water. This endothermic tendency lets the thresher shark tolerate much colder water than some of its relatives do.
However, that strategy only works if the temperature drops gradually. This season’s sudden winter chill arrived and caused the sharks to slam their migration into high gear. The Gulf of Maine population began to flee south in large numbers while sticking to the warmer shallows. According to Skomal, the Cape Cod area’s extreme tides and intricate passes making navigating difficult, especially when you’re a cold shark in a hurry. He stated that these four sharks were most likely already dead before freezing in the Arctic air and washing ashore.
The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy responded to the frozen sharks and took them back to their facility to thaw and necropsy. So far, there’s no sign of organ failure, injury, or disease.
Read more from our source here.