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Two Sharks Wash Up Dead And Mutilated In Marsalforn Bay As Divers Left Dismayed

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A pair of Bluntnose Sixgill sharks showed up dead and mutilated in the bay of Marsalforn in Gozo yesterday morning.

Photos were submitted to Lovin Malta by a dismayed diver who spotted the two sharks yesterday morning and initially thought that he was looking at two turtles in distress.

“I first saw the sharks floating in Marsalforn Bay yesterday at about 11am. At first, I was concerned that it might be two turtles in distress. It was difficult to positively identify them from the shore,” he told Lovin Malta. 

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He then called for assistance from Nature Trust’s Wildlife Rescue, “and it turned out to be two sharks”. He described the incident as “very sad”.

Apparently, the shark bodies have also been cut off and only the head and some of the organs were left. 

The man who initially spotted the sharks floating is also a diver himself, and he expressed his sadness and disappointment at the incident and his appreciation for sharks.

“I have been privileged to dive with sharks abroad. It’s been some of my most memorable diving experiences. They are magnificent creatures and not a species that deserves such negativity. They are very important to the health of our seas,” the diver expressed.

“I have only seen two very small catsharks around Gozo in 16 years of diving here. And I’m always hoping to see more. So I was very sad to see the sharks discarded like this,” the diver told the newsroom. 

The man who flagged the incident also contacted Sharklab-Malta, from where he got more information about the breed of sharks.

“They are a very deep water species and only come to shallow waters occasionally. They are caught as by-catch and they are not good to eat so are often discarded like this,” he said.

And unfortunately, this breed of sharks is not protected within Maltese waters.

Lovin Malta also spoke with marine biologist Alan Deidun, to help understand the situation and what it could have caused it more.

“These sharks were quartered as they might have been destined for sale. Sharks, unfortunately, are regularly sold on the market or are regularly discarded given their frequent capture as bycatch,” he explained.

“This is indeed a pity given their slow reproduction and the endangered status of many species’ populations – the species shown here is potentially a bluntnose six-gill shark, also known as the cow shark, about which we know very little about,” he concluded. 

This is not the first time this breed of shark was found dead in Malta; of Malta’s 35 species of sharks currently and historically documented in Maltese waters, only a small percentage of those are protected by Maltese or EU legislation.

The total number is 13 out of 35 species. The Bluntnose Sixgill shark (Hexanchus griseus) is not protected in Maltese waters and has been a species landed in Malta and Gozo for many years. The Maltese name for this species is Murruna ta’sitt gargi.

If you ever encounter anything of a similar nature, do not hesitate to send an email to [email protected] 

Images credit: Adrianna Chojnacka from Family Diving

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When Sasha (formerly known as Sasha Tas-Sigar) is not busy writing about environmental injustice, she's probably fighting for women's rights. Follow her at @saaxhaa on Instagram, and send her anything related to the environment, art, and women's rights at [email protected]

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