The carcass of what is believed to be a Hexanchus griseus or bluntnose sixgill shark. (Photo by Sarah Timmer)

North Saanich mystery shark identified, UVic lab seeks to do necropsy

Cause of death could be complications during birth among other things

The 10-foot-long shark that washed ashore at Coles Bay has been identified by experts as a Hexanchus griseus or a bluntnose sixgill shark.

Lots of Peninsula News Review readers emailed in to confirm the experts’ identification.

Residents saw what they thought was a shark swimming in the bay on Feb. 3 and two days later saw it had washed ashore dead.

Brian Timmer, a student at UVic’s prestigious Juanes Laboratory said that due to the shark’s distended belly, it is likely that it was a mother that ran into complications while giving birth. Although a necropsy (an autopsy for animals) is needed, this is a likely scenario as mothers are known to come into shallower waters to give birth and have large litters of 20 to 100 pups.

James Younger, a Saanich Peninsula resident was by the shoreline this afternoon when a biologist inspecting the shark, made a discovery that seemed to confirm Timmer’s suspicions.

“[The biologist] saw a head, leant down and pulled out a baby shark from the birth canal. He said the mother probably died while giving birth.”

RELATED: 10-foot-long shark washes ashore in North Saanich

“Sixgills give live births and are known to come into shallower waters to give birth, as well as for hunting on a nightly basis because they are sensitive to light,” said Timmer.

Other possibilities are that it was poisoned, endured a stressful event or died of old age, but nothing will be known for sure until a necropsy is carried out.

READ ALSO: Ratfish generates social media buzz on Vancouver Island

The Juanes Laboratory is contacting Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the federal agency with oversight in this area, to see if they can perform the necropsy and then report back their findings.

A similar event occurred in Port Alberni on Feb. 13, 2011, and the cause was attributed to a shark encountering complications while giving birth.

Local whale-watching skipper, Evan Sztricsko, was on the water south of Ogden Point last summer when he recovered a much smaller sixgill shark.

“I was informed by the DFO [Fisheries and Oceans Canada] that often they die choking on traps that are baited for crabs or other animals,” said Sztricsko.

READ ALSO: Rare ‘king-of-the-salmon’ washes up on Oak Bay beach

Timmer added that since there will be a necropsy, the chances of a whale-style beach explosion, where internal gasses build up until they blow, is slim. Likely the stomach and any other organs that might have had gas build-up from decomposition will be taken for analysis and used to find out about the shark’s diet and lifestyle.

nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

The smaller sixgill shark Evan Sztricsko found last summer near Ogden Point. The eye had been eaten away by marine scavengers. (Photo by Evan Sztricsko )

The baby shark the biologist inspecting the carcass found. (James Younger)

Just Posted

Pipeline protestors plan march as Trudeau gives Trans Mountain the go-ahead,

20 kilometre march to protest the pipeline starts in Victoria, ends on Saanich Peninsula

Convicted drug trafficker asks Victoria courtroom for chance to ‘turn this around’

Horst Schirmer sentenced for convictions on five counts of possession related to trafficking

$11 million overdraw for McKenzie Interchange construction

The project has been delayed multiple times and is now estimating a budget of $96 million

Alzheimer Society calls for helpline volunteers in Greater Victoria

Charity is in ‘urgent need’ as calls on the rise

Summer transit route increases hit Greater Victoria hotspots starting July 1

Canada Day routes operate on Sunday-level service with select late-night service

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support the government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion?

The federal government announced Tuesday its approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline… Continue reading

Man to be sentenced for sexual abuse of young girl in Nanaimo

Stephen Mark Castleden also sentenced for child pornography-related charges

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

VIDEO: Firefighters stop blaze from spreading after BMW crashes at Saratoga Speedway

Victoria-based businessmen were ‘corner training’ on Father’s Day when incident took place

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

Most Read