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Dozens of sharks washing up dead in California

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: sharks, dead animals, health news

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(NaturalNews) An otherwise highly-resilient species of shark, the leopard shark, is turning up dead all over the northern California coast, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area. According to reports, dozens of leopard sharks have either washed ashore dead since April, or have been found so badly injured and in pain that the creatures were literally pounding their heads into the sand in what some locals said appeared to be suicide attempts.

A report in The Oakland Tribune explains that a California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) necropsy has pinned the deaths on "inflammation, bleeding, and lesions in the brain, and hemorrhaging from the skin near vents," as well as bleeding around internal organs. Based on findings, it appears as though the creatures died a slow and painful death, but experts do not know why the sharks are suffering this awful fate.

Catherine Greer, a resident of Redwood City, was one of the first people to notice some of the dead sharks. She and her 13-year-old son allegedly tried to help push some of the beached, alive sharks back into the water, but "they'd swim right back, thrashing their heads against the shore ... as if they were trying to commit suicide," she said.

Sean Van Sommeran, executive director of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation, a Santa Cruz-based group that has been tasked with investigating the die-offs, says that when his group first began getting alerts about the sharks, many of them were still alive. But as time went on, the gravely-ill creatures began to wash ashore dead, and since that time there have been hundreds of others that have turned up dead.

"We're only seeing a tiny fraction of what's going on," Sommeran said to reporters, implying that many other creatures further out in ocean waters are likely suffering and dying as well. Considering that leopard sharks are a stronger species than most, there is no telling the extent of animal deaths that is likely taking place.

Initial tests conducted on water samples taken from the Redwood Shores lagoon, one of the areas where sharks were found, revealed nothing out of the ordinary. But Redwood City spokesman Malcolm Smith said the city is paying for additional tests.

Others say the deaths may have been caused by environmental pollution from agricultural runoff, or even from Fukushima radiation.

Sources for this story include:



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