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Aug 2, 2014 1:12 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Great White Shark Found On Amagansett Beach Being Studied At Stony Brook Southampton

Aug 5, 2014 3:10 PM

The intact remains of a juvenile great white shark that was found washed ashore at Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett last Tuesday night, July 29, are now being used for scientific research at Stony Brook Southampton’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, in addition to other research institutes across the country.

East Hampton Chief Harbormaster Ed Michels and Harbormasters Joe Vish and Jay Carron came upon the animal at around dusk on July 29. Mr. Michels said he became concerned about the crowd of beachgoers who were standing around the dead shark.

According to the State Department of Environmental Conservation, it is illegal to possess a great white shark due to its protected status. “Under federal law you are not allowed to take them,” Mr. Michels said. “That’s why we took it away from everybody. They’re not supposed to be in anybody’s possession.”

Mr. Michels said they loaded the shark into a truck and put it on ice. “I said, ‘Let’s get it out so it doesn’t decay anymore and stink.’”

The harbormaster then called the Riverhead Foundation, which was not interested in taking the animal because “they only deal with mammals,” Mr. Michels said. On Wednesday, the National Marine Fisheries Service researchers from Stony Brook Southampton’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences came and picked up the small shark, which was approximately 4 feet long and weighed about 75 pounds, according to Mr. Michels.

Great white sharks can grow up to 21 feet in length and can weigh more than 2 tons, according to the Smithsonian Institute.

Great whites generally feed on seals and sea lions, which populate the East End. However, according to Damien Chapman, assistant professor at the Stony Brook Southampton School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, the sharks are still rare in the region’s waters.

“Because they’re top predators, they’re naturally going to be a lot less common than other fish. It’s the law of ecology that there be relatively few of them,” Mr. Chapman said, adding that being able to study one of the sharks is a valuable opportunity.

The shark, estimated to be less than 2 years old, was dissected last week by the National Marine Fisheries Service, and pieces of it were donated to researchers across the country.

“The shark was entirely dismembered,” Mr. Chapman said. “All I have is a tiny little piece the size of your fingernail, because I do DNA, so that’s all I need.” He said the shark’s head, jaws, stomach contents and other parts went to other researchers in the United States.

Mr. Chapman said the shark’s cause of death could not be determined by the dissection, because there were no signs of disease.

“Unless it’s something really obvious, like a harpoon sticking out of it, it’s not easy to do with a shark,” Mr. Chapman said. “I can tell you what didn’t kill it—it was not hooked, so it wasn’t an angler. But it could have been caught in a net, or it could have just died from some sort of natural causes.”

Great white shark numbers have dwindled in recent years due to their targeting by trophy hunters, which is the reason they have become a protected species. During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the great white shark population declined because of fishing, Mr. Chapman said, adding that the blockbuster movie “Jaws” had a lot to do with it. “But certainly there were a lot of white sharks caught off Montauk before ‘Jaws,’” he said.

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Perfect promo for "Shark Week".
By lazymedic (100), southampton on Aug 2, 14 1:29 PM
There are a lot more toothy critters close this time of year than most folks realize!!!!
By bigfresh (4594), north sea on Aug 2, 14 6:48 PM
The mother must still be around
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Aug 2, 14 8:11 PM
It's unfortunate that this beautiful creature washed up on shore but it's incouraging news that Great White Sharks are returning on an ecological standpoint.
By Osprey7 (1), East Hampton on Aug 2, 14 9:18 PM
There is nothing ENCOURAGING about this report. Sharks are no joke and it sucks that water people have to think about the mother floating around. I could go on about this argument(seals) but hopefully we don't see more activity close to our shores. Save your breathe/typing, but if they are getting inside the break water at some point it may become a problem.
By Genuin (26), Hampton Bays on Aug 3, 14 12:30 AM
Great Whites give birth in our nearshore ocean waters as evidenced by this pup.
By bigfresh (4594), north sea on Aug 3, 14 6:40 AM
warm water temps of august attract these sharks
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Aug 3, 14 7:11 AM
Sharks are all over the shore line of the entire East Coast. The chance of one of these coming into contact with you are slim. You have more of a chance of getting killed crossing the street. Sharks are miss under stood. If it were Bull sharks around here, than I would have concern. Bull sharks attack much more than a Great White by far. Below is a link where you can track sharks (not all just ones that were tagged) it's just for information, but is very interesting.

By EH123 (22), East Hampton on Aug 3, 14 7:43 AM
1 member liked this comment
Here is a better tracker. Click on the names to right of screen to see the sharks. I bet you will be very surprised at how many sharks are in our waters.
By EH123 (22), East Hampton on Aug 3, 14 7:49 AM
The behavior of some of the people who saw the shark on the beach was downright disgraceful. A man put the shark's head on a beach bucket and then had his kids sit on it and take photos. One obnoxious person actually asked the other viewers to move out of the picture of his daughter sitting on the shark. Just a few minutes later a boy came down from one of the ocean front homes with a set of pliers to pull out teeth. thankfully Marine patrol arrived and took control of the situation so that the ...more
By louse pt. (143), springs on Aug 3, 14 12:05 PM
You said it... people are animals.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 3, 14 9:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
respect for a dead fish-give me a break
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Aug 3, 14 3:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
Agree, Westhamptonboy. I was confused when Mr Michaels said he was concerned about the crowd of beachgoers "standing around" the shark ..., Standing in a circle around a dead shark, pointing its anatomy out to one's children and even posing for pictures should not be cause for outrage, in my opinion.
By fishcove (39), southampton on Aug 3, 14 7:53 PM
Imagine if Alcohol was still allowed at that beach... there really would have been some shenanigans going on
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 3, 14 9:04 PM
Disrespectful for a fish? This country has lost its minds. We are becoming weak and stupid.
By chief1 (2790), southampton on Aug 3, 14 11:13 PM
2 members liked this comment
I would argue that treating other creatures without respect, dead or alive, is rather stupid, in fact it's barbaric.
By louse pt. (143), springs on Aug 4, 14 4:14 PM
Bet you wouldnt be too respectful if it was alive and gnawing on your leg
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Aug 4, 14 5:19 PM
of course i would do what i needed to do to survive in that situation. My point was that the behavior of the people was obnoxious that's all. I think if you were there and witnessed it the way I did, you would probably agree.
By louse pt. (143), springs on Aug 5, 14 7:28 AM
It's one thing to stand around the shark and take pictures. I have no issue with that. Great Whites are protected species and it was not right for people to do things like try to pry it's teeth prior to the animal being taken for research.
By louse pt. (143), springs on Aug 4, 14 7:36 AM
research? cut the thing up and throw it away or make fertilizer
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Aug 4, 14 11:09 AM
Not many sea lions around here last I checked.
By scottso (18), southampton on Aug 6, 14 7:10 AM