A large bronze whaler shark washed up on Gansbaai beach earlier this month. Picture: Hennie Otto
Cape Town - The bodies of 14 bronze whaler sharks were discovered near Gansbaai earlier this month.

The sharks are listed as near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature list, because they are being targeted in commercial and recreational fishing for their meat.

Bronze whaler sharks are also often spotted during shark-cage diving in the small town. Great white sharks are becoming rare sights during cage diving because of environmental factors.

The carcasses of 13 bronze whaler sharks were discovered washed up on a beach near Gansbaai on March 5.

Another shark carcass was found between Kammabaai and Voëlklip.

Natalia Drobniewska, the operations manager at the SA Shark Conservancy, said one of the sharks was pregnant.

Sharks washing up on the beach is not a common phenomenon.

Georgina Pendell, a marine biologist for the White Sharks Project, said in the year she worked for the organisation, she didn’t hear of any similar cases.

It is still unclear what led to the sharks being washed up.

“There are a lot of possible reasons for the sharks to wash up: being hit by a boat, getting stuck in fishing nets and then dying, getting caught on long lines and then discarded back in the ocean, natural causes and sickness,” Drobniewska said.

Pendell said there was a trawler near to where the sharks were found.

“They might have gotten tangled in the nets, died and then got washed on to the beach,” Pendell said.

Weekend Argus