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October 08, 2012

Juvenile Salmon Sharks Found on Oregon Beaches

Scientists Seek Answers to Seasonal Phenomenon of Struggling or Dead Sharks in Northern Oregon Surf

In a poorly understood seasonal recurrence, dead juvenile salmon sharks are washing ashore near the town of Seaside, Oregon, according to a report at beachconnection.net.

Staff at the Seaside Aquarium have discovered a handful of juvenile salmon sharks -- which are closely related to makos and great whites — dead on the sand or struggling in the surf in recent months, according to the report. The most recent dead juvenile found on the beach near this northern Oregon town measured 42 inches in length. Salmon sharks, which grow up to about 10 feet long as adults, bear live young. They tend to follow migrations of their primary forage, Pacific salmon, and can be found most often in Alaskan waters.

“This is the fifth juvenile salmon shark to come ashore in this area in the last two months,” said Tiffany Boothe of the Seaside Aquarium. “Three of the sharks, including this one, were already dead when they washed ashore. The other two were found struggling in the surf and were placed back into deeper water and swam away.” Boothe said this kind of animal stranding is a typical occurrence this time of year. She said a graduate student from Stanford University is looking into why this is happening. 

There are no recorded attacks on humans by salmon sharks, according to the NOAA Fisheries website.