The mysterious death of an eight-metre basking shark in New Brunswick has caught the eye of British researchers.

The shark washed ashore in Saint John this week, to the puzzlement of local marine biologists.

Now European researchers curious about the shark's demise are asking questions, said University of New Brunswick biologist Steve Turnbull.

"They were just wondering if the one we got washed up on the beach was also one that they may have seen over there at some point in time," Turnbull told CBC.

He's sending over images of the shark's fins and unique markings to the researchers who will determine whether they have any record of it, he said.

It's still not clear how the shark died, said Donald McAlpine, zoology curator at the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John.

Researchers haven't been able to move the entire shark carcass into their laboratories because of the difficulty accessing the shore, he said.

"The carcass is very high up on the shore so I don't expect that it's going to be drifting away in any big hurry," McAlpine said. "We're gonna keep an eye on it, and as it starts to decompose and break up, we'll probably try to collect some other material from it."

They've removed the head and a few vertebrae, but left the shark's body lying on the beach.

Basking sharks are harmless and eat mostly plankton. They are common in the Bay of Fundy.


  • The diet of the basking shark consists mostly of plankton, not plants as was originally reported.
    May 19, 2009 10:45 AM AT