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Found Alive: Rare Thresher Shark on N. Oregon Coast, Manzanita Beach

Published 08/01/2019 at 6:23 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Found Alive: Rare Thresher Shark on N. Oregon Coast, Manzanita Beach

(Manzanita, Oregon) – Park rangers on the north Oregon coast discovered something unusual Wednesday morning when staff at Nehalem Bay State Park reported a shark washed ashore at that beach. Crews from Seaside Aquarium went down to Manzanita and found it was a thresher shark – something that rarely washes up in this area. (Photos courtesy Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium).

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The aquarium’s Tiffany Boothe said it was a female that was nearly nine feet long, and even more remarkably it was still alive. However, the shark died not long after the crew’s arrival.

While a stranding is a very rare occurrence, the thresher shark is fairly common to these waters.

“Thresher sharks are native to the Oregon coast, but are more commonly found off the California coastline,” Boothe said. “During the spring and summer adults and sub-adults congregate to inshore waters to feed on small bait fish, such as herring and sardines. They use their large tail to beat the water, which frightens and stuns the fish, making them easier to catch. The maximum size of this species of shark is 20 feet, averaging about 18 feet.”

The shark was estimated to be between four and five years old. Boothe said they could not ascertain how it died.

Boothe said the shark caused quite a scene among beachgoers and local residents. The last time the aquarium encountered one of these was in September of 2009 – almost ten years ago. Before that, the last sighting was in 1996, according to what the aquarium told Oregon Coast Beach Connection back then.

It’s believed thresher sharks are following baitfish along the Oregon coast. They join other sea creatures in these chases, which is why you see large runs of Humpback whales during late summer. Boothe said Humpbacks are being spotted right now off the southern Washington coast and in the mouth of the Columbia River.

Last time, in 2009, there was a huge run of sardines along the north coast, which had thresher sharks chasing after them. The thresher found back then was 12 feet long. Seaside Aquarium staff knew it had been chasing sardines because it had two sardines stuck in its gills. They were even finding them stranded on the beach in big numbers at the time.

Wednesday, aquarium staff packed up the deceased shark and will let it be used for educational purposes in the area.

“Whenever possible the aquarium will recover dead sharks that wash ashore and allow students in local schools the chance to perform necropsies,” Boothe said. “Though sad, it is a great educational opportunity that they may not get otherwise.” Oregon Coast Hotels in this area - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours










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