Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Frozen Sharks Washing Up on Cape Cod

By Jasmin Malik Chua, Live Science Contributor | January 6, 2018 06:18pm

As the Arctic blast continues to roil the Eastern Seaboard with gusty winds and frigid temperatures, at least four thresher sharks have been found frozen off the coast of Cape Cod.

Is Old Man Winter to blame? Probably not, as the sharks likely died not from hypothermia but from stranding themselves in shallow waters as they attempted to migrate south, according to Greg Skomal, the senior fisheries scientist who leads the shark research program for the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game.

Unlike blue sharks, mako sharks and basking sharks, thresher sharks tend to linger in the Gulf of Maine until late December, Skomal said. Characterized by their long, scythe-like tails, the animals possess endothermic abilities, meaning they can retain their metabolic heat to a certain extent. [On the Brink: A Gallery of Wild Sharks]

Indeed, a recent tagging study found that the animals leave waters only when they dip below temperatures of 46 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius). As a result, many of them don't start their journey to warmer climes before midwinter.

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