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Body of Sevengill Shark Washes Up on N. Oregon Coast, Providing Education Opportunity

Published 06/28/22 at 4:25 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Body of Sevengill Shark Washes Up on N. Oregon Coast, Providing Education Opportunity

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(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – A sizable shark washed up Sunday on the north Oregon coast, causing a brief stir but mostly providing an opportunity for educating the public and creating some scientific interest. (All photos courtesy Seaside Aquarium / Tiffany Boothe)

Crews from Seaside Aquarium responded to the call of a beached shark at Arcadia Beach State Recreation Site near Cannon Beach, finding a long-dead broadnose sevengill shark. According to Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium, it was a female, about 120 pounds and 8.7 feet long.

“Morning tide was low enough for us to recover the 120-pound shark, which will be frozen and used as both an educational tool and for ongoing research through Oregon State University,” Boothe said.

These don't show up too often on the Oregon coast. In 2021, aquarium manager Keith Chandler told Oregon Coast Beach Connection he'd only seen a handful wash up in 40 years.

He added that with this shark, there was no immediate sign of why it died, partially because it had been dead long enough to start decomposing rather badly in some areas.

Boothe said Broadnose sevengill sharks are one of 17 species found off this coastline. They are fairly common out at sea, however.

“While they are known for their aggressive behavior when feeding (and the fact that they can get quite large, nearly 10 feet and weighing up to 400 pounds), there has not been a documented attack on a human along the Oregon coast,” Boothe said.

Yet the science world hasn't completely figured out if they'll eat humans or not. Since the 17th century, there have only been five attacks around the world. Yet on occasion human remains have been found in this species' stomachs.

“Like their name suggests, the broadnose sevengill shark is unique in that it has seven gills while most species of sharks have five gills (apart from two species of sixgill sharks, which you have already probably guessed have six gills),” Boothe said. “They can be found off the eastern and western Pacific, Argentina, and South Africa in estuaries, bays, and at ocean depths from nearshore to 400 feet. Smaller sevengills feed on fish and squid but as they get bigger, they start to prey on marine mammals and are known to hunt in packs.”

When news stories like this are published, some on social media invariably declare it's a sign there's something wrong with the oceans. Incidents like these of creatures washing up have nothing to do with this either way. There's an enormous and dense variety of lifeforms even off the Oregon and Washington coast, and all of those creatures die eventually.

A more reasonable question might be: why doesn't more stuff wash up with all that life out there?

Chandler said the answer to that is rather simple as well: “most things just sink to the bottom after they die, and there they get consumed.”

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Below: another sevengill shark from 2021

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