News

SCU expert wants to know why blue shark died

Senior lecturer in marine biology and fisheries at SCU's School of Environmental Science and Management Dr Danny Bucher dissects a blue shark washed up at Byron Bay. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Senior lecturer in marine biology and fisheries at SCU's School of Environmental Science and Management Dr Danny Bucher dissects a blue shark washed up at Byron Bay. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

WHAT killed this apex predator still remains a mystery.

The blue shark washed up on Byron Bay Main Beach on Friday morning.

Southern Cross University shark expert Dr Daniel Bucher conducted an autopsy on the creature to try to determine the cause of death.

He said its proximity to the coast was unusual, given the species generally sticks to open oceans where the water is cooler and deeper.

Initially, Dr Bucher said swallowing a long-line hook, plastic in the gut or pregnancy complications may have caused the shark to become ill.

However, after examination, he said there was no obvious cause of death, although the shark's stomach and intestines were completely empty, meaning it hadn't eaten in a few weeks.

Fin and flesh samples have been taken to determine the shark's metal content and its vertebrae have been examined to work out its age.

"At this stage, we really don't know how long they live for," Dr Bucher said.

"We know that other species of sharks can range from 20 to 50 years old so what we'll do is remove a couple of vertebrae from the spine, just behind the skull, and they have growth rings in them, like the growth rings on trees so you can make a bit of an estimate on the age."

Samples will also be taken for teaching purposes and the dissection filmed.

Dr Bucher said samples from the dissection would help contribute to shark metal contamination research being undertaken at the university.

"This one's an interesting one because the species we've looked at so far for that work have been coastal species that tend to have a higher exposure to metal contamination," he said.

"This one is an open-ocean fish, so this might give some good baseline to compare those coastal ones with."

Dr Bucher said it was highly unlikely any human remains would be found during the dissection.

Topics:  editors picks, sharks, southern cross university




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

3 easy dinner recipes your kids will love, and so will you

No Caption

THERE is a middle ground! Dinners fit for kids and adults.

How to reduce your child's risk of food allergies

ABOUT 90% of food allergies are caused by just seven foods.

5 good mental health habits for kids (and parents)

CRYING OUT FOR HELP: The demand for counselling support for children and young people is increasing.

FORMING good habits early is critical for your child's mental health.

Smack or no smack - where do you stand?

THE debate is reignited - is smacking acceptable?

Susie O'Neill: Why I stopped smacking my children

Swimming legend Susie O'Neill says she has stopped smacking her kids.

“I (smacked) because that’s what I knew growing up."

Introducing a step-parent into the family

Introducing a step-parent into the family can be stressful for the children, as well as the new parent.

THERE is no easy way to introduce a step parent into the family.

GALLERY: Highlights from the 2016 Lismore Lantern Parade

TREE STYLE: This elven-like forest man turned heads at the 2016 Lismore Lantern Parade.

Thousands turn out to experience a magnificent parade of colour

WATCH: Lismore Vikings fight it out to the last man

Lismore Viking re-enactment group Rognvald’s Lith members Michael Rowe, Richard Guy, Travis Woods, Warren Thompson and Jim Hammond, will be participating in battle at the winter village at Liismore on June 25th and 26th. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

Axes, swords, shields and spears clash in epic, bloody battle.

Jaw-dropping big boy toys at Primex

DIG IT: Northern Rivers JCB dealer Paul Millar, and JCB Excavator national product manager Deon Cope with their 20 tonne excavator.

There were a lot of toys to play with at Primex.

Latest deals and offers

Samba Blisstas drumming crescendo

Percussion collective the Samba Blisstas rip out the beats at the 2016 Lismore...

Lismore Vikings in bloody battle to the death

Watch the skills, thrills and violence of the Lismore Viking Village warriors as...

Justice Lucy McCallum

Justice Lucy McCallum

Justice Lucy McCallum says she reduced Oliver Curtis's sentence due to comments...

OPINION: Should we give up the great Aussie dream?

Generic housing Rural View.

First home buyers are struggling big time

Commercial Property June 16 edition

SNAPPED UP: A sushi shop in a106sq mground-floor tenancy with a 43sq moutdoor area in Southport Central Towers on the Gold Coast has sold for $954,000.

RealCommercial edition June 16, 2016.