APTOS (CBS SF) — Wildlife agents are investigating the death of a 9-foot-long great white shark after its mutilated body washed up on an Aptos beach last weekend.
Fish and Wildlife officials said they have handed over the case to its law enforcement division based on the results of the necropsy which was conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday.
However, the officials would not comment on what specifically they found that resulted in them handing over the case to law enforcement.
The body of the male shark that weighed over 500 pounds drew a crowd of onlookers to Aptos’ Beer Can Beach on Sunday. The shark’s body had visible puncture wounds. It’s massive teeth still had sea lion fur wedged in them.
White sharks are native to the area where they feed on sea lions.
One marine biologist in Santa Cruz talked to KPIX 5 about what saw when he got a first-hand look at the shark.
Giancarlo Thomae, a local fishing boat captain and marine biologist, was there when the great white washed up on shore in Aptos.
He snapped photos and then helped transport the shark to the Fish and Wildlife facility for the necropsy.
White sharks play an extremely critical role in balancing the ocean’s ecosystems.
“If this is a criminal investigation, it would just make it even more heartbreaking and sad,” said Thomae.
The shark was a young adult male measuring nine feet three inches long and weighing about 500 pounds. It appeared healthy and well fed and still had sea lion fur stuck in its teeth.
The injuries the shark suffered were not unusual or suspicious, so the death remains a mystery.
“The fresh injuries that we observed on this shark were very consistent with adult sharks that do feed on marine mammals,” said Thomae.
Thomae shot a video clip last year showing a shark circling a kayak that went viral. He has spent the past four years documenting the increase of shark activity in the waters off the greater Santa Cruz area.
He said if a human is to blame for the most recent death, he doesn’t think it was a fisherman.
“I am a fellow fisherman and we love sharks. Sea lions will often take fish right off our lines,” explained Thomae. “So whenever we’re out there and see a shark, we’re pretty stoked.”