A young 8-foot shark died after washing up in shallow waters near Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz on Friday afternoon.
Sean Van Sommeran, executive director of the Pelagic Research Shark Foundation, told KSBW that he believed the shark may have been sick, possibly infected with a type of bacteria that’s been killing other sharks. Rescuers were unsure whether it was a great white shark or a salmon shark, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
On Friday, a gathering of nearly 50 people crowded the shorelines to watch the shark, according to the Mercury News. Video footage shows the visibly injured and bleeding shark struggling to swim.
“At first, I didn’t know what it was. I thought maybe it was a dolphin,” Mark Shwartz, a Santa Cruz resident, told the Mercury News. “When I got closer, it was clearly a shark. It was flailing, and there was a photographer at the water.”
The Pelagic Shark Research Foundation attempted to rescue it several times, but because of the tide and rough 13-foot waves, the shark was unable to swim back out to sea, Sommeran told KSBW.
“It just kind of turned around,” he said. “It was aimless.”
The shark’s carcass will now be taken to a California Department of Fish and Wildlife facility in Santa Cruz so that researchers can study the fish and try to determine why it died, said Joe Flowers, volunteer coordinator for the Pelagic Research Shark Foundation. The organization may have results of the autopsy late Saturday or early Sunday.