Rare 14ft small sand tiger shark found off Wexford coast – The Irish Times

A 14ft small-toothed sand tiger shark washed up on Kilmore Quay in Co Wexford on Saturday.

Scientists believe this is the first official record of the species found in Ireland’s waters.

The small-toothed sand tiger shark, scientifically called Odontaspis ferox, is a species rarely encountered by humans as it is typically found in water depths greater than 100 meters.

The shark biologist Dr. Nicholas Payne, assistant professor at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) Science Department, “couldn’t believe it” when he received an email from Martin, a Swiss tourist who spotted the shark while out walking on Saturday.

“As soon as I saw the photos he sent, I knew we urgently needed to go there to sample this rare animal,” said Dr. Payne.

The shark species are found in several locations in temperate and tropical seas worldwide. It was assumed that the species is distributed only to the Bay of Biscay in the eastern Atlantic.

A team from TCD, including postdoc Jenny Bortoluzzi and PhD student Haley Dalton, traveled to Wexford, accompanied by University College Dublin scientist Kevin Purves, to take as many measurements and samples as possible before the flood hit.

The team hoped to learn about the biology of the unusual animal and hopefully learn why it died.

“Unfortunately, just two weeks ago, another of this species washed up on the south coast of England; We all thought that was very strange given the northern location at the time, but to see a second one here so soon after is a little worrying,” added Dr. Payne added.

“We will now run a series of tests to find out what might have caused this and also to learn more about this species in general.”

Small-toothed sand tiger sharks pose no threat to humans and are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

While not specifically targeted by commercial fisheries, they can face threats such as bycatch or pollution.

The maximum recorded size for females of the species is around 15 feet, putting the female Irish specimen washed up on the shore at Wexford at the upper end of her size limits.

“We are delighted to have collected so many high-quality samples from this particularly rare specimen, as this information will be invaluable in advancing our knowledge of the biology and ecology of the species through numerous national and international collaborations,” said dr Bortoluzzi, who helped with the dissection, said.

“It is also wonderful that a member of the public has contacted us as it shows increasing awareness and we hope this encourages more people to get in touch with us in the future should they come across anything similar .”

https://www.irishtimes.com/ireland/2023/04/04/rare-14ft-smalltooth-sand-tiger-shark-found-on-wexford-shore/ Rare 14ft small sand tiger shark found off Wexford coast – The Irish Times

Dais Johnston

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