57 dead baby bull sharks wash ashore near Mobile Bay
THEODORE, Ala. - Residents of the area near Mobile Bay woke up on Saturday morning to find dozens of dead baby bull sharks washing up on a beach near Dauphin Island Parkway.
An investigation by Alabama Marine Resources and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is now underway.
“Horrified! Not expecting something like that,” said Sabrina Rios in an interview with Fox10, who happened across the shark carnage while visiting her friend. ”They were all about two-to-three feet and they were just all piled on the beach here.”
Her husband said the stench was overwhelming until his two eldest boys used a shovel to dig holes and bury the sharks.
Fox10 reported that biologists with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab collected a total of 57 baby bull sharks from the scene on Saturday. They’ll perform necropsies on the sharks and use them for research purposes.
As far as the cause, biologists said they discovered remnants of a recreational gill net on the beach, which was also littered with dead crabs, catfish and other sea life.
"From what we could see, somebody had set a recreational gill net on the beach and the sharks were just swimming into the net and got tangled,” said Chris Blankenship, director of Marine Resources. “If sharks aren’t moving through the water, they die."
Many of the discovered sharks were still tangled in the net when biologists found them last weekend.
“It looks like they tried to take them out of the net and left a pile on the beach. Then they just kind of gave up and left a ton of them inside the net itself.”
Gill nets require a license and are supposed to be monitored whenever they’re in use.
"There were no markings on this piece of gill net that was there on the beach, so it's difficult to say whether the person that put it out had a license and if they were netting legally or not,” said Blankenship.
While the loss of shark life is sad, biologists say the 57 pups only represent a small portion of the sharks that swim the waters of Mobile Bay. Officials say they’ll be patrolling the area where the net was deployed more closely in the coming weeks.