On Saturday, a Swiss tourist discovered a 14ft smalltooth sand tiger shark on an Irish beach. When he found the dead shark, the tourist was walking at Kilmore Quay in County Wexford in the Republic of Ireland. He emailed shark biologist and expert Nicholas Payne at Trinity College Dublin. When Dr Payne saw the photos he knew that him and his team “had to go down there urgently.”
Smalltooth Sand Tiger Sharks in Northern Waters
The Trinity team included Jenny Bortoluzzi and Haley Dolton. UCD scientist Kevin Purves also accompanied them. They rushed to the site before the tide washed the shark away. Once they arrived, Dr. Payne said, “We had to rush to take as many measures and samples of the animal as possible before the tide took it out.”
The 14ft smalltooth sand tiger shark on the Irish beach was a female. According to the team, they estimate that she was around 300-400kg. The largest recorded female of the same species measured 15ft long. Payne said while the shark was dead and not swimming in its environment, it was still awe-inspiring to see it up close. They took as many measurements and specimens as possible to determine the cause of death.
This is the second smalltooth sand tiger shark found dead at unusual spots. Before this shark, another one washed ashore on the south English coast. According to the biologist, this is raising a concern. Why are there two dead smalltooth sand tiger sharks in such a short period of time? And why are they at a location they usually are not found at? Payne says, “We’re hopeful it’s not the start of something or that we are going to see more mortalities in this species.” The team hopes to collaborate with the UK team to share their findings and find out more about what happened to these sharks.
While smalltooth sand tiger sharks look intimidating, there are no records of one attacking a human. They cause no threat to us but are considered vulnerable by International Union for the Conservation of Nature. These sharks end up getting killed due to bycatch and water pollution.