9-Foot, 500-Pound Shark Washes Ashore In Texas - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/8/06-CORPUS CHRISTI

9-Foot, 500-Pound Shark Washes Ashore In Texas

 Officials are trying to determine why a 9-foot mako shark ended up dead on a Corpus Christi beach this week.

The 500-pound female shortfin was discovered Wednesday. The shark, with its natural metallic-blue color and black eyes, may have died recently, said David McKee, a Texas A&M-Corpus Christi biology professor. It had no visible wounds.

The shark was hauled into a walk-in freezer at the school. McKee said staff will conduct a necropsy next week and send samples of the carcass to Texas A&M University in College Station for testing.

McKee, who has taught at the Corpus Christi campus for 22 years, had no explanation for the shark's discovery.

"To our knowledge, this has never happened in the bays of Texas," McKee said in today's editions of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. "In wintertime, they have been caught in surf off Padre Island. But they are usually only found beyond the continental shelf. They're even rare in the Gulf."

Shortfin mako sharks usually have been found off the California coast in North America, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Their diet includes mackerel, tuna and marine mammals.

McKee said he will try to find out what the animal was doing this far from its usual habitat and how it died.

Students spotted the shark carcass in about a foot of water Wednesday morning before calling university officials about noon.

Padre Island National Seashore fishing guide Billy Sandifer said he has heard of just three such sharks found dead or alive off the island - but never in the bay.

"It's outstanding to me," Sandifer said. "I don't know if a shark has ever washed up on the Corpus Christi beachfront in my life."

McKee said residents need not be alarmed.

"Even in the Gulf, it would be uncommon to encounter one of these," McKee said. "I certainly would not be worried about mako sharks."

The biology professor said bull, lemon, tiger, black tip and hammerhead sharks are common in the Gulf of Mexico.

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