It’s So Cold Sharks Are Freezing To Death

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The arctic air blast hitting many parts of the U.S. this week has brought sustained below-freezing temperatures on land and at sea, leading to record-low temperatures.

The extreme cold conditions appeared responsible for the deaths of at least three sharks, which were found on the shores of Cape Cod beaches.

Representatives from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the NOAA Fisheries Service said two sharks, both Threshers measured to be around 14 feet long, were found on the Wellfleet and Skaket Beaches on Wednesday.

“Both of these male sharks were nearly the same size and likely stranded due to cold shock. Morphometric data, organs, and tissue samples were collected to be examined (once they thaw),” the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy said on Facebook this week.

A third 14-foot thresher shark was found stranded in Brewster on Friday, and the animal’s body was too cold to perform a necropsy.

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy responded to a third thresher shark this afternoon in Brewster near Cape Cod Sea…

Posted by Atlantic White Shark Conservancy on Friday, December 29, 2017

Cold shock is when an organism is exposed to sudden, very cold temperatures. Humans can and do suffer cold shock, which can lead to muscle spasms and cardiac arrest. Cold shock often happens to sea turtles as well, causing them to wash up on the same shores, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s program director, Michelle Wcisel, said. When cold shock happens to fish, like the sharks, and they wash up on shore, they die from suffocation.

Weather on Cape Cod this past week has hardly left the low 20’s and frequently dipped into the teens, with overnight temperatures in the single digits. The National Weather Service had issued extreme-cold advisories for parts of Northeast, Midwest, West and New England.

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