Please return the head of juvenile white shark - DICT
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Cape Town - The Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) has asked for the person/s who may have removed the head of a dead juvenile white shark that washed up in Die Dam near Gansbaai on Sunday to return it.
The shark was spotted by Cape Town anglers who found it washed up at the surf zone.
The body cavity was torn open up to the throat and the large liver was completely missing, as was the heart.
The predation injury looked a few days old but cannot have been older than a week.
This follows reports of killer whales, including the two known to predate on sharks, reported in Cape Town a week prior to this carcass washing up, DICT said.
“The white shark is a juvenile, estimated 3.0m female which was tagged externally with an acoustic transmitter in Struisbaai on Sunday, 20 June. The shark’s head and jaws had been freshly cut off while it was on the beach, as evidenced by clean knife marks to the head. The acoustic tag had also been removed – only the tag’s steel trace near the dorsal fin base remained and had been cut symmetrically with a side cutter.”
The animal was reported to Stephan Swanson and Dr Alison Kock of SANParks and collected locally by shark biologist Alison Towner and Altus De Witt, before it was taken back and necropsied at a nearby DICT facility.
Towner said this was the first time an acoustic tagged white shark has washed up with the transmitter cut off and taken.
“The tag cannot be used for anything other than marine research, therefore has minimal sale value. We recorded some shark bites by the tail, possibly from sevengill sharks, scavenging on the carcass while it was washing around in the surf zone and adjacent kelp. The stomach contents were largely full of seawater and bile, with no clear remnants of prey species distinguishable,” Towner said.
DICT said this was not the first white shark carcass the team had collected with the head/jaws removed by an opportunist.
It said the previous shark's head was returned and if the person in this case would like to return the head of this shark anonymously they can do so at the DICT, 5 Geelbek Street, Kleinbaai or by calling 082 907 5607.
“The possession of a white shark jaw is highly illegal and carries serious consequences – a significant fine and prison sentence,” DICT said.