SAN DIEGO – An eight-foot-long juvenile great white shark on Sunday washed ashore Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and State Beach dead.
The shark was wounded by fishing gear including a larger hook and leading wire, typically used for big-game fishing, according to California State Parks. It’s now leaving rangers with a plea to the community and local anglers.
Early Sunday, Ranger Dylan Hardenbrook was called to lifeguard tower 2 to a wounded shark with a torn mouth.
“The cable leader had torn the shark’s mouth open on both sides, presumably from it being hooked and then twisting its head around trying to escape,” Hardenbrook said. “There were very traumatic injuries to the mouth and head area.”
“It’s both illegal and unfortunate. It is illegal to intentionally hunt or fish for great white sharks, they are protected,” Hardenbrook said.
While it appears the shark was targeted illegally, this is hard to confirm with certainty because an angler can merely express that it wasn’t their intent.
Despite the growing numbers of sharks in local waters, great whites’ conservation status is vulnerable, one level above endangered.
The shark had been tagged by a geo-tracking device installed by crews from Shark Lab out of Cal State Long Beach, detected by nearby buoys with monitors. Recently, over 41 individual sharks had been identified at Torrey Pines in the course of a month. Experts suggest it’s a sign of a growing ecosystem.
“Great white sharks cruise up and down the California coastline all along and I think we’re building up some big food populations around here which should attract more and make more stop by and visit us,” said Dr. Patrick Abbott, a geology and environment expert in San Diego.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife performed a necropsy, an autopsy done on animals, on the shark Monday. The results have yet to be reported.